Kristy Nichols

At first, it seemed as though everyone was breathing a sigh of relief, as the 2016 executive budget proposal unveiled last week did not slash higher education as deeply as expected.

“The true reduction to higher education is $211.3 million,” Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols told the Joint Budget Committee last Friday.

But Nichols went on to admit that number is built on “ifs” and “maybes” that include capping the business inventory tax credit, as well as asking college students to pay what the administration is calling an “excellence fee”.

One component of the Jindal administration’s 2016 budget proposal, revealed Friday, involves holding the line on spending in the public-private hospital partnerships. The private partners in the LSU hospital deals had asked for an additional $142-million in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

“What we funded these hospitals for was level funding, effectively,” Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols detailed to the Joint Budget Committee. “And some of the hospitals are projecting growth above level funding. That’s the point of discussion that we are going to have to work through in this process.”

State lawmakers refused to approve part of the Jindal administration’s plan for balancing the current budget Friday, making it clear they’re fed up with sweeps of dedicated funds.

“Somebody, sooner or later, has got to stand up and say we’ve got to stop this,” Sen. Robert Adley of Benton remonstrated with the Joint Budget Committee and representatives of the Division of Administration.

Adley, a Republican, chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, and he took great issue with part of the budget-balancing plan to grab $6-million from gasoline taxes — which are dedicated to building and maintaining roads — and shuffle that money to State Police.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee meets today to vote on the governor’s plan for slicing $103-million from current year spending.

“These mid-year cuts are critical,” House Speaker Chuck Kleckley says of the painful necessity.

Perhaps you know them as the “yellow shirts”. Certainly, state Senator Troy Brown of Napoleonville thinks of disabilities advocates that way.

“Y’all remember when y’all came with the yellow shirts? Let me tell you something. That works!” Brown offers as encouragement.

Disabilities advocates have been meeting with their local state lawmakers, trying to prepare for what promises to be an agonizing and contentious legislative session, as it centers on the budget and a $1.6-billion revenue shortfall.