Louisiana’s House Republicans have been insisting the Governor needs to make more budget cuts before they’ll consider raising revenue. With the full House considering the tax hike bills tomorrow, they took matters into their own hands today.
“The Governor maxxed out all of his cuts. Our additional cuts are 87-million,” House Appropriations chairman Cameron Henry said when opening discussion on his bill to remove a total of $117-million from state agencies.
The bill takes funding away from Coastal Protection.
“The Governor recommended $273-thousand of cuts; we added an additional 440-thousand,” Henry explained.
And money from DOTD: “The Governor’s plan was already taking 761-thousand of that, so we pretty much just doubled it,” Henry said.
Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger was concerned about the funds being stripped from K-12 education.
“This one really jumped out at…” Leger began.
“They all should jump out at you, Rep. Leger,” Henry interrupted.
“They all make me unhappy, but $44-million cut to the MFP?” Leger continued.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler, who is getting another half million dollars taken out of his department budget, spoke his mind.
“Stop trying to micromanage and tell me where I’ve got to make my cuts!” Schedler said, heatedly.
There was testimony that some of the cuts – like those to the MFP and the CPRA -- were unconstitutional, yet amendments to the bill were not permitted.
“I looked at these cuts. I am fired up on it,” Baton Rouge Rep. Pat Smith said. “I have to tell you, Mr. Chairman, you went really overboard. So I can tell you, I will not support this bill.”
Henry appeared unmoved.
“I wouldn’t imagine that anything on this list isn’t going to affect something in some way, shape or form. It’s almost impossible for it not to,” Henry said. “But that’s the political reality of where we are, and what our job is to do here today.”
Fourteen committee members voted in favor of the bill; nine opposed it. The measure, HB 122, heads next to the House floor.