House passes consulting contracts oversight bill
BATON ROUGE - Senators voted 37-0 Tuesday for a proposal to give lawmakers more oversight of the consulting contracts signed across state agencies.
Rep. Jerome "Dee" Richard, I-Thibodaux, sought to force a 10 percent cut on agencies' spending on consulting and professional services contracts, and the idea passed by the House unanimously despite opposition from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration.
But senators rewrote the measure to provide more review and no required reductions, after three years of instead rejecting the proposal outright.
Under the revamped version, most consulting and professional services contracts with a state general fund price tag topping $40,000 would need to get approval from the Legislature's joint budget committee before they could begin.
If the committee doesn't request a review within 30 days from receiving information about the contract, it will be deemed approved. If the committee rejects or reworks a contract, any savings would be directed to a fund for higher education.
"It probably will not be a huge amount early, but it will give us a chance in the future to put dollars toward higher education," said Sen. Mack "Bodi" White, R-Baton Rouge, who handled the bill in the Senate.
Contracts involving Medicaid services, elections and indigent defense would be exempt from the oversight requirement.
The bill would expire in 2017, unless lawmakers choose to renew the provisions. The rewritten proposal moves back to the House for consideration of the Senate's changes.