Privatization Oversight Bill Fails

May 28, 2013

Governor Jindal’s administration has said privatizing state services saves money, but some legislators are wary about the quality of those those services and whether they help the budget.

A measure that would have provided more oversight for contracts died in a Senate committee yesterday, as those that work at the Capitol hunkered down on the holiday to get everything done before the session ends on June 6.

Rep. Kenny Havard wanted to establish a review process for contracts worth more than $5 million to make privatization more transparent. The legislative auditor’s office would have been tasked with figuring out if a contract would be cheaper than the state performing those services itself. And if so the appropriate legislative committees would then have to approve the contract.

"I’m in business myself," Havard said, "and I certainly wouldn’t spend 5 million dollars without looking at the contract, and following up, making sure I was getting what I had paid for."

But senators, including Bodi White, who voted the measure down 8 to 2, had too many questions that Havard couldn’t answer.

"Say if it was a $10 million dollar contract for a bridge that got washed out," White posed hypothetically. "Where does it say it wouldn’t have to go to transportation, joint transportation, and the appropriate standing committee… It would have to go through Finance and Appropriations, too, I would think."

White commented that if the legislature weren’t in session, such a bridge might take months to get approved.

The Jindal Administration was the only party that spoke against the bill, calling the measure “liberal” and “pro-union.”