Girl Scouts left out of state capital outlay, but Boy Scouts left in

METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Confusion over paperwork and possible oversight among legislators has Girl Scouts advocates demanding equal treatment.

"We want to be treated equally and move up the ladder like we should," Jill Pollard with Girl Scouts Louisiana East said.

At Camp Whispering Pines in Independence, the Girl Scouts Louisiana East chapter is having a problem with keeping their 23-acre man-made Lake Timberlake at bay.

Erosion is eating away at the lake's spillway, and there is a concern its waters could empty into the nearby Tangipahoa River and cause flooding downstream.

"We're doing Band-Aid steps. We're moving rocks. We're shoveling dirt. We're putting cloth down to keep the spillway where it needs to be right now. But it is, again, a band-aid, and it's going to cause us serious challenges to get this repaired if the funding doesn't come through," Pollard said.

For the past three years, state lawmakers approved the organization's funding effort and put the $850,000 lake project in the state's capital outlay.

But with little money to go around for construction projects like the one at Whispering Pines, the funding has never officially made it to the camp.

Historically, many projects in capital outlays do not receive their approved funding due to budget constraints.

On Monday, Girl Scout representatives were surprised to find out the project was not included as a priority when they approached lawmakers to get the possible funding again.

"We are asking the state to put us back on the priority list. We would love to be up to priority one. We understand the Boy Scouts moved from priority five to priority one. We're not asking for [the Boys Scouts] not to be there, but we just want parody," Pollard said. "Of course, there is no guarantee to get the funding, but we sure would like to be in the running with an equal position that the Boys Scouts have."

Girl Scout members are using the Boy Scouts in their argument because the same House Ways & Means committee members who challenged the Girl Scout's funding effort on Monday voted to move a $780,000 Boys Scout project to the state's highest priority.

Members told the Girl Scout representative Mary Patricia Wray the paperwork for the organization's project was late and the opportunity was lost.

But the paperwork was not late. Lawmakers erroneous mixed-up the Lake Timberlake project with another Girl Scout project in need of funding that was late, according to Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner.

"It would send a really bad message to the 14,000 girls that we serve that we have a problem with fixing the lake that's about to flow into a river, but we don't have a problem with funding a camp for boy scouts," Wray told committee members.

Stokes attempted to put the Girl Scout project back on the bill through an amendment, but she rescinded the measure after not getting support from other committee members.

"Clearly this a case where something was erroneous omitted. It wasn't late. It wasn't a late application. We just need to get it back in the bill," Stokes said.

Stokes said she will ask the Senate to add the Girl Scout's project to capital outlay.

Girl Scout leaders have started a grassroots campaign with its members asking them to contact their state leaders about this issue.

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