Louisiana will still have to make more than $600 million in midyear budget cuts over the next two months despite raising more than $1.5 billion in taxes last spring and cutting the popular TOPS scholarship program.
The state's budget cycle that ended in June had a $313 million budget deficit that must be made up in the current budget year. Louisiana's state taxes also aren't bringing in nearly as much money in the current year as projected. State budget chief Jay Dardenne said he expects an additional shortfall to be more than $300 million when its announced next month.
"I know many people thought we would have more money than we needed right now," said Ben Nevers, Gov. John Bel Edwards' chief of staff, during a budget meeting Monday (Dec. 6). "That just hasn't happened."
Dardenne said the governor will be proposing cuts to higher education, hospitals for the poor and uninsured as well as services for people with disabilities in the middle of the year because there isn't enough money to prevent those types of reductions.
Those cuts will be proposed despite the fact that legislators spent months in Baton Rouge last year looking for ways to spare higher education, hospitals and people with disabilities from budget cuts. The state's "rainy day" fund -- which is supposed to help cover unexpected financial shortfalls -- will also likely be used.
On the one hand, the Republicans in the state House of Representatives (with moral support from Governor Treasurer Senator Kennedy) refused to do anything to help raise the money necessary to fix the gigantic holes Bobby Jindal had blown in the budget. Louisiana has a "spending problem, not a revenue problem," Kennedy insisted. We just need to stop buying art or something.. oh and paying for poor people to go to the hospital.
On the other hand, Bobby Jindal had already blown the hospital money helping his friends get rich. Nevertheless we were promised by Jindal and his acolytes that the privatization scheme would save the state money in the long run. (Some of us were skeptical.) Anyway, it turns out today that a big part of the problem is....
Legislative Fiscal Office: Budget for privatized #LSU hospitals, clinics has grown 22% since 2013-14 year https://t.co/GuWtq76mFs #lalege— Melinda Deslatte (@MelindaDeslatte) December 6, 2016
So, yeah, we do have a bit of a spending problem there.