- Associated Press - Monday, June 8, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - As relations between Gov. Bobby Jindal and state lawmakers continue to sour, both the state House and Senate have taken aim at the rising costs of providing the Republican governor’s security detail as he readies a 2016 presidential campaign.

The House proposed transferring $2.5 million from Jindal’s office next year to the Louisiana State Police to cover the price tag of state troopers traveling with the governor, seeking to make the governor absorb the costs in his own budget.

Senators stripped that plan from the budget proposal, but on Monday in a 29-5 vote added language to next year’s spending plan that would prohibit the state police from paying out of its budget “for traveling with the governor for campaign purposes.”

If it becomes law, that provision could force Jindal to either to try to pay from his office funds or from his personal campaign account.

Jindal has steadily increased his national travel as he builds a GOP presidential campaign he’s expected to announce June 24. And the state police travel expenses have been going up for Jindal’s protective detail, even amid ongoing state budget shortfalls.

Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party, sponsored the prohibition on state police covering Jindal’s campaign travel costs.

“State taxpayers should be paying for state business,” said Peterson, D-New Orleans. “We have limited state dollars and should limit what they are used for.”

Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Kenner, said while he supported the concept, he thought a governor could get around the prohibition by claiming some state business was done during trips to Iowa, New Hampshire and other states.

“We keep passing laws that sound good. I’m for what she wants, but you can’t enforce it,” Martiny said.

Although the prohibition was approved overwhelmingly by a bipartisan group of senators, Jindal’s office sought to make the debate a partisan one Monday.

“Even in this age of highly partisan politics, it’s shocking that the chair of the Democratic Party wants to leave a Republican governor unprotected,” Jindal spokeswoman Shannon Bates Dirmann said in a statement.

The possibility of the provision becoming law seems a long-shot.

A final budget deal is expected to be worked out by a six-member legislative conference committee, and it’s uncertain if the ban will survive the haggling. Also, Jindal has the authority to strip items from the budget with his line-item veto.

Dirmann wouldn’t say whether the governor would veto the language if it received final legislative passage.

The state police spent $2.2 million in hotel, meal and other expenses for the governor’s state trooper security detail so far this year, for both in-state and out-of-state trips, lawmakers were told in a recent budget hearing. The travel costs were higher than for Jindal’s two predecessors.

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