During the regular legislative session in 2012 Representative Joel Robideaux (R) introduced House Bill No. 2, the capital outlay program, that provides a source of funding for public improvement projects not eligible for funding through any other funding programs.
The funds are provided through the sale of State General Obligation Bonds and can be used for acquiring lands, buildings, equipment or other properties, or for their preservation or development of permanent improvements.
Items which qualify as capital outlay expenditures include acquisition of land; site development and improvement; construction of buildings and other structures; additions, major improvement, and alterations to an existing facility that will extend its life or increase its usefulness; installation, extension, or replacement of utility systems, fire protection, and other major facilities; initial equipment and furnishings for new buildings; and major equipment and furnishings for existing buildings.
The program requires that projects be submitted by the head of each budget unit (i.e., Department Secretary).
However, local officials of political subdivisions may also make requests, but only through the senator and representative in whose district the proposed project will be located.
Projects then compete through the legislative process, and successful ones are grouped into various funding priorities and included in the approved Capital Outlay Bill.
Funding for a specific project does not become available until such time as the bonds for that project are sold, or an advance cash line-of-credit is approved by the State Bond Commission.
District 30 Senator John Smith has been very instrumental in getting capital outlay projects awarded over the years in Vernon and Beauregard Parishes.
One of his first projects was Highway 28 from Leesville to Alexandria.
Over a period of 10 years, and in five different phases Highway 28 was paid for with capital outlay funds.
One accomplishment he is very proud of was the $25M that was awarded for a thoroughfare that will connect Fort Polk to HWY 28 and bypass Highway 171.
His dream has been to build up the infrastructure both above and below ground so a development company could come in and build homes to provide a housing option for soldiers assigned to Fort Polk.
Over the years, little by little, using capital outlay funds University Parkway is slowly seeing the improvements needed to make Senator Smith’s dream a reality.
But what does all of this mean for your specific community?
Many of the projects that have taken place over the years have been built with capital outlay funds.
In 2016 New Llano was awarded an $800,000 match for construction on the water system improvements.
Hornbeck improved the towns water system with capital outlay funds.
It is important to note that it is very difficult to be awarded capital outlay funds for a project.
Many of the smaller communities with very little revenue are often denied or overlooked because they cannot meet the requirement of matching funds.
Senator Smith explains that a town or parish who can match requested funds by a minimum of 33 percent has a good chance of being awarded the capital outlay funds.
But, one that can match requested funds by 75 percent will almost surely be awarded the capital outlay requested.
Many times a community will have to take out several bonds, unsecured loans, to meet the match.
Before breaking ground for Parkway Elementary in 2014, Vernon Parish and the City of Leesville bonded everything possible to secure $26M in matching funds to build the school.
The capital outlay bill is presented every year by the House of Representatives. It is then passed to the Senate who reviews it and makes changes known as Acts.
It is then sent back to the House for them to vote before it is then sent to the Senate for their vote. Once both the House and Senate approve the Bill, it is sent to the Governor for him to approve it or veto it.
Capital Outlay is funded by various taxes that are collected.
The 2018 Bill awarded $3.6 Billion dollars in appropriations that will be financed with General Obligation Bonds issued by the State of Louisiana in future years.
One other thing to keep in mind is that the process from the time your community establishes an issue that needs repairing or a road that needs building to the time the first shovel of dirt is moved is generally a minimum of six years.
There is planning to be done, plans to be made and finances to calculate before you can submit a request for capital outlay funds.
Once the funding is approved your community is expected to start the work needed or lose the funds available.
So the next time you drive by some road construction, just remember that it was not an overnight process to get it started and have a little patience while they work to complete the project.