Senators Refuse To Charge Jindal's Office For Travel Costs

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Senators have rejected a plan approved by House lawmakers that would have Gov. Bobby Jindal's office pay his security detail costs for his extensive out-of-state travel, rather than the state police.

         The House proposed transferring $2.5 million from Jindal's office next year to the state police to cover the price tag of state troopers traveling with the Republican governor. The Senate Finance Committee, however, stripped that plan from the budget proposal Thursday.

         Jindal has steadily increased his national travel as he readies for a likely 2016 presidential campaign he's expected to announce June 24. And the head of the Louisiana State Police acknowledged in a recent budget hearing that his agency's travel expenses have been going up for Jindal's protective detail, even amid ongoing state budget shortfalls.

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         The travel costs are higher than for Jindal's two predecessors.

         The state police spent $2.2 million in hotel, meal and other expenses for the governor's state trooper security detail this year, for both in-state and out-of-state trips, lawmakers were told in a recent budget hearing.

         The Finance Committee didn't talk about undoing the House plan to make Jindal's office cover those types of costs before voting on the reversal as part of 39 pages of budget amendments adopted as a package.

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         When asked about the adjustment after the meeting, Committee Chairman Jack Donahue said: "We thought that was the right thing to do."

         "We want the governor to travel and not be protected when he travels? I mean, he's the governor of the state of Louisiana," said Donahue, R-Mandeville.

         The House had voted 55-35 to force Jindal's office to cover those costs, a proposal that likely would have forced the governor to make cuts elsewhere in his office to pay for the expense. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the House backed the plan.

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         During the House debate, Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, said the state police shouldn't pay for costs associated with "the governor running for president."

         – by AP Reporter Melinda Deslatte



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