FILE - Louisiana State Capitol

The Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Louisiana’s various boards and commissions planned to spend about $5.4 million on salaries, per diems and travel expenses during the last fiscal year, according to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.

For the 2019 fiscal year, which ended June 30, boards budgeted about $1.3 million for per diems, $2 million for salaries, and $2.1 million for travel expenses. Boards have until May 1 of next year to report actual expenses.

Seven boards did not respond to the Auditor’s request for information, the report says, including two that also did not respond last year: the Board of Louisiana River Pilot Review and Oversight and the Vermilion and Iberia Railroad Development District Board of Commissioners.

“The Legislature may wish to consider taking some action against Boards that fail to comply with the reporting requirements in state law,” the auditor’s report says.

The Public Service Commission, whose five members are elected, has the highest total salary at nearly $334,000. Next highest is the Board of Pardons, whose salaries total $317,000, and the Tax Commission, at almost $301,000.

The Greater Baton Rouge Port Commission had the highest budget for per diems at $108,000, followed by the Employment Security Board of Review ($97,920) and the Greater Lafourche Port Commission ($97,200).

The Board of Pharmacy had the biggest travel budget of $77,000, followed by the Professional Engineering and Land Surveying Board ($72,200) and the Southern University Board of Supervisors ($65,000).

Of the 472 boards listed in the report, 132 reported budgeting payments to members in at least one of the three expense categories.

The Auditor reports 17 boards and commissions either never fully organized, were disbanded with no plans to reorganize, were inactive, or had no funding prospects to perform their stated functions. Of those, seven also were inactive the prior year.

“Because these entities are not fulfilling their established functions, the Legislature should consider abolishing them,” the Auditor’s office recommends.

The legislature abolished six inactive boards by Act 434 of this year’s session.

Staff Writer

David Jacobs is a Baton Rouge-based award-winning journalist who has written about government, politics, business and culture in Louisiana for almost 15 years. He joined The Center Square in 2018.