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House doesnít address huge fiscal concerns

C.B. Forgotston -   May 16, 2013

On Friday, as I watched the Louisiana House of Representatives debate the stateís Fiscal Year (FY) 14 budget I couldnít help but wonder what happened to certain fiscal concerns that I didnít hear addressed in the debate.

For years we heard concerns about the state going over a "fiscal cliff."

This year that cliff was in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion needed to maintain the status quo of state government.

If the cliff has been addressed, I missed it.

We were told that even after the mid-year reductions, the current yearís (FY13) budget had an approximate $80 million shortfall due to certain projected revenues not materializing.

The state constitution prohibits the state from incurring a deficit. The FY13 budget ends on June 30.

If that shortfall has been addressed, I missed it.

The Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) for FY13 was recently declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court because the lege failed to properly approve it during the 2012 Regular Session.

As a result, it is as though the FY13 MFP never existed. When that happens the MFP reverts to the formula approved for the previous fiscal year.

The previous yearís MFP provides for a 2.75 percent increase in funding if the FY MFP is not approved. From what source is the additional 2.75 percent funded?

The FY12 MFP contained no funding for Bobby Jindalís statewide voucher program. What happens to the money spent on the vouchers in FY13 that wasnít authorized?

If these two issues have been addressed, I missed it.

The FY14 budget is funded, in part, by $800 million in projected savings from privatizing the former LSU hospitals.

Other than for Lallie Kemp, I donít believe that there is state funding for these state hospitals past Oct. 31.

Other than for Earl K. Long Hospital in Baton Rouge, I donít believe any of the agreements for private providers to operate the hospitals have been signed.

Without the agreements in place, funding for these hospitals will remain the responsibility of the stateís taxpayers.

If we taxpayers have to pick up the tabs for any hospital after October, it seems that the lege will have to come back into a special session to address the matter before Oct. 31.

If this issue has been addressed, I missed it.

Perhaps some lege can explain to me what happened to these fiscal issues. I donít want to be concerned needlessly about massive cuts in vital state services or massive tax increases in the near future.

Can anyone help me see what Iíve missed?

School Board still hasnít

gotten the message

Saturday there was another dismal turnout (10 percent) election in Hammond.

The Tangipahoa Parish School Board thought a low-turnout would be a benefit to it in passing a 60 percent property tax increase in Hammond.

The school board was wrong. We defeated the tax.

This is the second time in two years that the board has tried unsuccessfully to raise our taxes via a low-turnout election.

Yesterdayís defeat of the millage increase in Hammond in no way was an expression of the lack of support for the Hammond Public Schools. It was a lack of support of the school board.

We simply donít trust the board to spend our funds wisely.

We want to see the school board resolve the long-standing desegregation order and make school finances transparent and easy to understand before we discuss giving you more revenues.

Albert Einstein said it best when describing "insanity" as "doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results."

The people of Hammond arenít insane, but I canít vouch for the school board.

Thanks to all in Hammond who voted in Saturdayís election.

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