Jindal’s messages to these two line items were as follows:
Veto Message Number 45: “This amendment provides $800,000 to the Ville Platte/Evangeline Recreational District for a multipurpose baseball and recreational center. This project should be funded through other sources. Therefore, I am vetoing this item.”
Veto Message Number 100: “This amendment provides $150,000 to the Evangeline Parish Recreation District for construction of a ball park. This project should be funded through other sources. Therefore, I am vetoing this item.”
The district and its efforts to provide a modern day multi-purpose recreational facility for area youth had received support from both governors’ Mike Foster and Kathleen Blanco, according to local residents. That gubernatorial support for the area children’s project ended when Governor Jindal vetoed it, stating the district’s project was not a state priority.
“Yes, this is a big disappointment. We have been working on it since Governor Foster was in office,” Senator Eric LaFleur said in regards to the veto. “This governor obviously is not aware of the tremendous impact the program has in this community and in our parish. The kids learn more than the rules of a game. These parish-wide programs provide our kids with lessons in self-esteem, sportsmanship, team play, self-discipline and leadership.
“I know there are lots of voters out there who are disappointed in Governor Jindal, and they should be,” said LaFleur. “Investing in this after-school program is a smart investment for Louisiana. It is how we keep kids off the street, off of drugs and on the narrow path. And if it is not one of Jindal’s priorities or a state priority, it should be. It is one of mine and it will continue to be.”
“Today, we are taking another step toward that New Louisiana by vetoing unnecessary non-governmental and governmental spending to reduce our state budget and send a signal we will not settle for business as usual,” Governor Jindal said as he vetoed 258 items in the state’s operating budget, totaling more than $16 million.
The Evangeline Parish Recreation District, created by Louisiana Revised Statue 33:4562.3 in 2004, had been working on numerous methods of financing the facility over the last few years. The proposed facility would have been located on property just north of the Union Tank Car operation. The approximately 80 acre tract was donated in part to the district by Dr. and Mrs. Greg Ardoin and purchased in part by the recreational district in 2007. The facility would have been available for boys and girls league baseball and softball, little dribblers, family, church and charitable events, but also for parish-wide league, tournament and school athletic events.
Veteran legislator, LaFleur (D), together with first term legislator, Representative Bernard LeBas (D) successfully argued for the funding before the Louisiana House of Representatives and the Louisiana State Senate and passed the appropriation measures that would have provided $950,000 for the facility. Those funds with existing district funds in the amount of $250,000 would have provided a total of $1.2 million dollars for the construction of the project. The state dollars, however, would only have provided a portion of the cost of the project. Plans for the remaining construction and maintenance costs would have come from USDA financing, revenue from the district and cooperative endeavor agreements with both the city and parish.
When the news began filtering in Saturday that Jindal was going to veto the money for this recreational district, locals began organizing a phone and email campaign to the governor asking him to change his mind. Now that the governor has vetoed this item, LaFleur encourages residents to contact him and let him know how important this project is because he and LeBas plan on asking for the money to be allocated for this project in January. You can write to him at him at PO Box 94004, Baton Rouge, La. 70804-9004 or call 866-366-1121 (toll free).
In a news release, LaFleur said annually, over 1,000 children and young adults participate in local baseball and basketball programs. Organized baseball and softball in Evangeline Parish has enjoyed phenomenal success. The effect of the feeder baseball programs in the parish is easily noted in the success in area high school baseball programs.