Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Home stretch

Coming down to the last days of the special session. Suffice to say the legislature has done a poor job of finding the money necessary to make this year's budget not terrible.
With no major tax bills left to consider in the special session, the Louisiana House has  agreed to raise $284 million for the coming budget year, or less than half of what Gov. John Bel Edwards says is needed to address the state's shortfall.

Edwards had wanted to raise an $600 million. The Senate had a more modest goal of $450 million in new revenue. But the House doesn't appear likely to put any more revenue on the table before the session ends Thursday (June 23) at midnight.
It's actually even worse than that as increasingly crappy revenue projections keep moving the goalpost.  There's plenty of blame to go around here but mainly the problem has been in the House where the conservative majority has seen fit to obstruct all but the most ineffectual revenue measures and leave everyone to fight over which "hard choices" to make.  For their part, the House has boldly taken it up on themselves to put those choices off until spring 
The Louisiana House of Representatives voted to fund the TOPS college scholarship program at 70 percent next year in the budget bill it passed Monday (June 20).

But that financial shortfall wouldn't be spread evenly across both semesters. The House budget proposal calls for TOPS to be fully funded in the fall semester and any financial shortfall that occurs to be absorbed in the spring semester.

That means students would receive a scholarship covering full tuition for the fall semester, but TOPS would drop to 40 percent in the spring.
The income tax bills they rejected left an awful lot of money on the table. If they actually cared about funding things, they might not have trashed them.

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