In Louisiana, 36 nongovernmental organizations or NGOs have until the end of the month to file progress reports with the state or risk being sued by the new Office of Debt Recovery for the collection of almost $4.5 million dollars. State Treasurer John Kennedy said his department has reached out to the organizations in numerous ways, and recently mailed final demand letters. He said he doesn’t agree with the State Legislature doling out money to NGOs in the first place.
“I’m not a big fan of the Legislature doing this, but it’s within its prerogative to give taxpayer money to private entities," Kennedy said. "But, they also passed a law saying the private entities had to be accountable, and they gave me the job of enforcing that. And I intend to enforce it.”
Over the past 20 years, Kennedy estimates that the Louisiana Legislature has handed out upwards of $300 million to various NGOs. He said with the creation of the Office of Debt Recovery, there’s now an enforcement mechanism to ensure that up-to-date progress reports are on file with the state. He said he’s doing what he can to see that the nonprofits are being good stewards of the money coming from state coffers. But still, he’s not in favor of the practice.
“As a taxpayer, what’s more important to me: Giving $50,000 to the Purple Circle Social Club or using that money to educate our children, pay our teachers, repair our coastline, or build roads?" Kennedy said.
Several of the NGOs in question are based in north or central Louisiana, including Boys & Girls Club of Natchitoches, Martin L. King Jr. Neighborhood Association in Shreveport, and Rapides Primary Healthcare Center, Inc. In total, according to Kennedy's report, these organizations have received $725,000 from the state.