BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana Bond Commission voted on Thursday to grant New Orleans $39 million for a vital power plant project, after threats by the state attorney general over abortion politics.
The vote was 11-1 with only Attorney General Jeff Landry opposing the measure. Landry had said he would hold funds to put pressure on New Orleans city officials who refused to enforce a statewide abortion ban.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell released a statement in support of the commission's decision.
"We are thankful for the bond commission for putting the needs of the people first and no longer withholding resources related to improving New Orleans aging infrastructure," Cantrell said. "We remain committed to protecting all our people throughout hurricane season and continue to stand firm in protecting rights of women in our city and in the State of Louisiana."
New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno also praised the bond commission's decision and criticized Landry's opposition.
"I want to thank the bond commissioners that understand their role and the vital importance of flood mitigation to the people of New Orleans," Moreno said. "The reckless politicization of this process was improper and risked the safety of our city."
The funds will go toward a credit line for a power plant that is critical to the city's flood prevention strategy.
State Sen. Jimmy Harris, a Democrat who represents New Orleans, said the plant would help protect hundreds of thousands of people in the city and also provide clean water to families.
"We're talking about a project that's protecting 384,000 people," state Sen. Harris said. "A plant that will be responsible for keeping the turbines moving. A plant that will be responsible so we don't have boil water advisories, so people can have fresh drinking water and bathe in safe water."
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in June to overturn Roe vs. Wade allowed state officials to reintroduce an abortion ban that only made exceptions for death and impairment of the mother or a fetus with a fatal abnormality.
After the court's decision, Mayor Cantrell, District Attorney Jason Williams and New Orleans Police Department Chief Shaun Ferguson vowed not to enforce the ban.
The New Orleans City Council also passed a resolution directing NOPD and prosecutors not to use city funds to enforce the ban.
Landry released a statement in July calling for action by the bond commission against New Orleans city officials' defiance, following a 12-1 Louisiana Bond Commission vote to withhold the $39 million.
"Today, our bond commission forced elected officials in New Orleans to decide if they will enforce state law," Landry said adding additional attacks on the city's crime prevention policies. "I hope they come before the bond commission to explain why New Orleans should continue to receive millions of taxpayer dollars while refusing to comply with the laws enacted by our legislature."
Two months later the board amended that decision.
New Orleans lobbyist Paul Rainwater said most of the project's funds would come from Entergy New Orleans and city funds but in order to finish the project by 2024, the city needs state funds.
"Find something nonessential to go after," Rainwater said. "Not the Sewerage and Water Board, not the power station, not the pumps."