BATON ROUGE, LA - In light of misinformation about the Louisiana Department of Justice's escrow account, Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office issued the following information for clarification purposes:
The Louisiana Department of Justice (LADOJ) Escrow account funds ongoing, active operations of the office.
For years, the LADOJ has been expected to partially fund operations through funds it generates. As a result, a substantial portion of the office's operating budget is not funded with real cash. Rather, the LADOJ has been funded with projected revenue and expenditure authority approved by the Legislature. However, this legal expenditure authority is meaningless if the office does not generate cash to fund it. When money is recovered for the state by the hard work of the LADOJ, a percentage of that money goes into the escrow account to help pay for office operations.
The LADOJ helps fund many of its own operations, relieving a burden on the Louisiana taxpayers. In FY17, 26% of the entire LADOJ legally approved budget relies upon funds self-generated, like those in escrow, to operate the functions of the office. The LADOJ previously received $18 million in taxpayer provided State General Fund dollars but received only $6 million in FY 17, a cut of two-thirds.
It is imperative that the LADOJ meet the Legislature's expectations of generating cash that funds a substantial portion of our budget.
Unlike the fake budget cuts to other agencies described with "budgetspeak" as "means of financing swaps" or decreases to excess budget authority, the swipe of LADOJ escrow funds is a deep and real cut that significantly harms our pursuit of child predators, fraudulent contracts, and corrupt government officials.
Any cut in self-generated funds in the active escrow account significantly limits our ability to defend the State in ongoing litigation with real financial exposure to taxpayers as well as limits our ability to recover dollars owed to the State.