Legislators from across the political spectrum stood on the Capitol steps Thursday afternoon touting their independence and a seeming conclusion to budget negotiations.
Governor Bobby Jindal’s executive budget proposal cut $1.3 billion in spending; House Minority Leader John Bel Edwards said this budget cuts $900 million.
"This is still an awfully hard budget to put out there," Edwards said, "but the reason it is so much better than what we had is because all of the one-time dollars and the contingent dollars that were stacked up against higher education are gone."
Lawmakers put together a new budget deal because many were worried that the dependence on one-time funds would result in mid-year cuts.
Jindal attacked the deals as a tax increase, because they incorporate cuts to tax exemptions.
Rep. John Schroder, with the Fiscal Hawks, said the effects of Jindal’s attack was misconstrued by the media as a breakdown in the negotiation process, but it brought more stakeholders into the talks, which Schroder praised.
“Look, am I perfectly happy with what the result is? No," said Schroder, "but I don’t think anybody is. And in my world, that’s a great thing.”
The legislative fiscal office is still crunching the numbers on the revised plan, but lawmakers are confident that they can replace one-time funds with a combination of cutting tax breaks and spending, and a new tax amnesty program. They are also presuming the group that estimates how much the state has to spend every year will revise revenue forecasts upwards.
Schroder said the bipartisan talks in Louisiana should be an example to the rest of the nation.
"If you come to the table, with all your cards," Schroder said, "and lay them on the table, work at it, keep working at it, we can get some place."