The Louisiana House Ways and Means Committee adopted a $4.8 billion construction bill this week, but yanked the authorization for $900 million of revenue bonds for the proposed new state hospital in New Orleans.
Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Jefferson, said he offered the amendment to halt construction on the $1.2 billion University Medical Center. He said supporters need to revise a business plan that predicts the facility would need more than $70 million of state support each year.
The facility would replace Charity Hospital, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It would be part of the Louisiana State University system, and serve as a training hospital for LSU, Tulane University, and other area medical schools.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration said the bonding authority was not required because debt for the facility would be issued by a separate governing body rather than the state.
State facilities director Jerry Jones said the move would delay the project by at least a year, but Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater said later that was not the case.
“This $900 million authorization to sell bonds for the hospital was an old authorization for revenue bonds to be sold by LSU,” he said. “The state will not be funding the project with these revenue bonds, so the amendment will have no impact on the project.”
The 2006 Legislature approved $225.5 million of general obligation bonds for the New Orleans hospital as part of a $381.6 million of state capital outlay appropriation.
Louisiana has also received $474.8 million in insurance payments and reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for flood and storm damage to Old Charity Hospital’s structure, and expects another $130 million from FEMA for replacement of damaged equipment.