BATON ROUGE—Louisiana should pay nearly $457,000 in legal fees for a doctor who was accused of killing patients stranded at a New Orleans hospital after Hurricane Katrina, the House budget committee agreed Monday.
The dollars would be divided, with about $145,000 going to the Dr. Anna Pou Defense Fund and the other $312,000 going to the LSU Healthcare Network for reimbursement of legal costs, under the bill (House Bill 341) approved by the House Appropriations Committee.
Former Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti had Pou arrested for allegedly killing patients at Memorial Medical Center after Katrina struck in 2005. Pou was never indicted and denied the accusations. The charges have since been expunged.
Several lawmakers on the committee apologized for the accusations against Pou.
The bill goes next to the full House for debate.
The nonpartisan Public Affairs Research Council added its voice to those who think the state should revise its official revenue forecast, giving legislators an up-to-date picture of how much money will flow into state coffers next year.
"To hold off on a new estimate would reinforce the public perception that politics is at play in what should be an unbiased, systematic estimating process," PAR said in a commentary.
The four-member Revenue Estimating Conference usually meets in mid-May to update the revenue forecast, which last was updated in February. But House Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Terrytown, who sits on the panel, has said he doesn't think the forecast needs to be tweaked.
LSU economist Jim Richardson, also a panel member, said last week he disagrees with Tucker.