LA Sen. Jack Donahue

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Louisiana’s Democratic governor is revving his engines,  responding to Republicans revving theirs.

“It is time to stop living in Fantasyland. It is time to stop pretending things are better than they are,” Governor John Bel Edwards says in response to statements made by Republican lawmakers as well as the state Republican Party.

Last week, Republican Senator Jack Donahue, the former chair of the Senate Finance committee, intimated the budget shortfall is fiction since the revenue estimating conference has yet to recognize it.

“Right now, it doesn’t exist,” he said during a briefing on the current budget situation.

Sue Lincoln

The Senate Finance Committee met Thursday to get an update on the state budget crisis.

“It’s almost all minus signs,” Legislative Fiscal Analyst Greg Albrecht told lawmakers, with a sigh.

Senate Finance Chairman Eric LaFleur asked for details on how this happened, and Albrecht ran it down.

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“How many people would be eligible in Louisiana?” Senate Finance Committee chairman Jack Donahue asked state health officials Monday.

More than half a million was the response.

“We would say that’s probably worst-case scenario,” DHH Undersecretary Jeff Reynolds added.

But there was more, as the committee was reminded the federal government is reducing Louisiana’s total funding for indigent care, beginning in January 2018.

Both the House and Senate worked over the weekend. Yet even Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield – the governor’s point man on tax increases and tax offsets -- notes the two chambers do not appear to be working together.

“There’s a lot of people posturing and a lot of politics right now,” Barfield observes, “So I don’t know what will happen in the end.”

The rift centers on the SAVE plan, creating a college fee that students won’t pay, offset by tax credits paid to higher education. After House Ways and Means killed the bill last week, its author, Senate Finance chair Jack Donahue, resurrected it. He did so by amending the language from his SB 284 onto three other tax bills, each authored by House Ways and Means chairman Joel Robideaux.

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.

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