Budget problems main focus in Baton Rouge battle
That was certainly the case during the month of March. Then, only two weeks after that blood-letting, the Legislature reconvened in Regular Session to address a $1.5 billion hole in the stateís operating budget-another unpleasant task.
During March, Governor Jindal submitted the outline of his executive budget. He touted the fact that, under his plan, health care and education would not be cut any further and no taxes would-under any condition-be raised.
After enduring the turmoil of the redistricting session, many legislators probably hoped that the budget problems could be handled as the governor outlined in his executive budget with no need to cut education or health care or to raise taxes as an alternative. It now appears that, instead of a relatively easy fix to the budget crisis, more wailing and gnashing of teeth is on the horizon.
Governor Jindalís executive budget was predicated on the use of over $400 million in one-time revenue to plug the budget hole. Soon after he released his budget outline, the sources for those funds started to come under fire. Part of his plan was to sell state prisons to private firms and then use the proceeds of the sales to help address the deficit.
That plan met with such strong opposition from legislators that the governor had to back off of it. He said he would wait to see if the Revenue Estimating Conferenceís (REC) new estimates later this month would result in enough new revenue to obviate the need for the prison sales.
The governorís plan to sell or privatize the group health insurance program-another potential source of new revenue-is also meeting with strong legislative resistance. Another pot of money the governor plans to use would utilize funds from a reallocation of Millennium Fund financing for TOPS.
There isnít much push-back from legislators on that approach but it would require a constitutional amendment to be approved by voters in the fall. That would create a problem for the funds to be included in the budget now under construction.
Many state officials hope that there will be good news on the revenue front when the REC meets in a few weeks to set the revenue estimates for the new budget. That may well be a false hope, however.
For example, it is possible that corporate income tax revenues will not perform near the levels projected. In addition to a soft economy, last yearís tax amnesty program encouraged companies in tax disputes with the state to agree to settlements that generated more money in the current budget but quite possibly took it away from future budgets-including next yearís. This is just one example of what could go awry.
If the governorís projected use of one-time revenues doesnít materialize as planned and if there is no partial rescue from the REC, the reality is that there must be either cuts or revenue increases. Governor Jindal has stated as forcefully as humanly possible that he will not allow the budget to be balanced with tax increases. If that is the case, there will have to be cuts-and significant ones.
By the time the Regular Session ends, the blood bath that legislators endured during the redistricting session might appear in retrospect to be a walk in the park compared to the budget turmoil they soon will face.
Subscribe Today and Save!!!
St. Charles Herald-Guide is an award-winning newspaper that covers all aspects of St. Charles Parish - from schools and parish government news to social events, features on our local residents and sports.
Order your subscription today!
Judge Michele Morel and attorney Tim Marcel have combined to raise more than...
Destrehan used its powerful ground attack to cruise past Central Lafourche 42-7 on...
Byron Joseph Sr., 56, is not a homeless stereotype. ...
The ghosts of Native Americans, French explorers and pirates will inhabit Norcoís...
Two of Hahnvilleís six touchdowns came from the defense, leading the Tigers to a...
After nearly five years of planning, a homeless veterans apartment building in...
Boutte Christian Academy (BCA) is a childcare and educational ministry of Life Church in Boutte. BCA was founded in 1980 as a Mother's Day Out Program and has grown over the years into a Class "A" Child Care Center and a State-Approved School
Hahnville students rally around autistic classmate, nominate him to homecoming court - 5233 views
James Colly Jr. is in many respects an average teenager.