The Senate Finance Committee met Tuesday afternoon, getting right to work on advancing authorization to use one-third of the Budget Stabilization Fund, also referred to as the Rainy Day Fund.
Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne presented the Governor’s plan to use $119 million from that Fund to help fill part of the $304 million deficit and reduce the impact on state agencies with just four months left in the fiscal year.
"The administration’s proposal to address the $304 million shortfall does not reduce funding to higher education, does not reduce funding to corrections, it does not reduce funding to the Department of Children and Family Services," explained Dardenne.
Senate Finance Chairman Eric LaFleur noted the state's budget is in this shape because of the downturn in the economy.
Dardenne stressed that "both individual income tax and corporate income tax have not been what was expected."
Senate President Alario reminded the committee of the short time frame they have to fix this problem.
"The clock is running on us during this session," he said. "We’re now in the second day. We have been having some negotiations with the House of Representatives leadership. They would like to use at this point some less amount of the Rainy Day Fund and nobody has any objection, but they’ve got to show us what those cuts are that would make up the difference."
"We’ll continue to give the House a little time to get it done," continued Alario. "I think it’s imperative that we at least begin to move an instrument forward so that we’ll have it in place in due time and be able to meet the deadline."
The committee advanced the Rainy Day resolution to the full Senate for debate, when and if the House starts moving their part of the shortfall fix: bills to cut Department spending.
Meanwhile, some House members have still say they have concerns with how frequently the state has tapped the Rainy Day Fund in recent years.