Jay Dardenne

Sue Lincoln

Only 344 more days till Louisiana reaches the edge of the fiscal cliff, yet most state legislators are following the “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” prescription. Not so for the administration, though, as the issue loomed large over Thursday’s State Bond Commission meeting.

Budget 101: Outgo

Jul 4, 2017
courtesy: Tax Structure Task Force

Yesterday we looked at state income, as part of Budget 101. Today we’ll look at the outgo.

Where does Louisiana spend its $9-billion of State General Fund revenue?  Let’s begin with what are known as “non-discretionary” items.


screenshot from legis.la.gov

“This is essentially the same bill that we passed out a couple of weeks ago, that we thought was responsible and made complete sense,” Senate Finance chair Eric LaFleur told his committee. “It just took a little, a week I think, for the House to come around. And I don’t foresee it getting any better than it is now.”


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“The more we fund this year, the bigger the fiscal cliff is going to be next year. And we can’t sustain more taxes. It’s irresponsible!”

Representative Valarie Hodges (R-Denham Springs) summed up the thinking of a majority of House Appropriations committee members, as special session budget hearings began where the regular session left off – with a bill that doesn’t spend all the estimated revenue.


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“We’re trying to get away from having consistent midyear cuts, which, as of right now, the only way I can think of doing it is not appropriating all of the money,” House Appropriations chair Cameron Henry said, as he called for his committee to approve what he referred to as a “standstill” budget, spending just 97.5% of the revenue forecast for the next fiscal year.


Sue Lincoln

What began as a legislative preview seminar at the LSU Law School morphed into a philosophy lesson when lawmakers were asked, “How do you balance wants and needs in budgeting policy?”


legis.la.gov

“Unfortunately there’s no rest for the weary,” Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne told the Joint Budget Committee Thursday.  “We start today looking at the challenges we face for the next fiscal year.”

Just one day after ending a special session to address the shortfall in the current budget, Dardenne was presenting the governor’s proposal for the next budget.

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“I don’t understand. In my world, a deficit is the difference between your revenue and your expenses.”

State budget shortfalls are complicated, even for Senator Sharon Hewitt (R-Slidell), who sits on the Finance Committee.

“Can you articulate for me in layman’s terms?” Hewitt asks.

With some help from Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, we’ll try.

According to Louisiana’s Constitution, during even-numbered years, like 2016, Legislators cannot introduce bills to create or raise taxes. That is, unless a special session is called, like the one expected to begin in mid-February. 


Sue Lincoln

We already know that in the next eighteen months, there is a $2.65 billion budget hole to fill. So how is the incoming administration planning to deal with it?

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