The $1.6-billion state budget deficit is going to be a major factor in the in the gubernatorial election this fall. All four announced candidates for governor appeared at a forum earlier this month, and offered their ideas on how to deal with the shortfall.
Skies may actually be clear over Baton Rouge today, but gloom hangs over the state capitol, as the Revenue Estimating Conference downgraded Louisiana’s income forecasts Monday. That means there’s a $103-million shortfall for the current fiscal year. And the deficit for the next budget year, which starts July 1, has ballooned to $1.6-billion.
State Treasurer John Kennedy joins us this morning to discuss the recent news of a budget surplus. Governor Bobby Jindal's administration and the Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols say the state has $179 million surplus, but State Treasurer John Kennedy disagrees. For one thing, Kennedy wonders where this money came from; according to his numbers, the state in fact should have a $41 million deficit at the moment. Kennedy says he "hopes we have a surplus," but fears the state is pretending we do.
Also, Andrew Muhl the Advocacy Director for Louisiana AARP is with us for the last segment today to discuss AARP's interest in Amendments I and II which are on the upcoming November 4th ballot, and why the AARP wants folks to vote 'No'. Andrew talks about how Amendments I & II are being advertised as a "package" but are in fact very different. He says Amendment I will make it harder for seniors and people with disabilities to remain in their own home and receive care there; and how Amendment II protects powerful companies from cuts which the AARP feels the state should not be doing.
Amendment I: Do you support an amendment to prohibit monies in the Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly from being used or appropriated for other purposes when adjustments are made to eliminate a state deficit?
Amendment II: Do you support an amendment to create the Hospital Stabilization Fund to stabilize and protect Medicaid reimbursements for health care services by depositing assessments paid by hospitals, as authorized by the legislature, into a fund to support Louisiana hospital reimbursement?
At the halfway mark in the state legislative session, all of the state departments have presented their piece of the state budget and the House Appropriations Committee invited the public to weigh in this week. Next it will be the committee’s turn at making changes to what the Jindal administration proposed. And new analysis of the 2014-2015 proposal shows a patchwork of funding that could leave the state could with a really big hole to fill for 2015-2016.
As reporters and analysts dug deeper into the state budget proposal this week, the plan was scrutinized for it's creative financing, including using the Coastal Protection and Restoration Fund as a pass-through account.
LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander stops by the studio to talk with Jim about LSU sports, student debts, the TOPS program, the new pressures due to decreased taxpayer funding, as well as a number of issues posed by numerous callers.
Also, former State Budget Director Steve Winham joins Jim to discuss the upcoming state budget and new library in St. Francisville, while Internationally known Theologian Rebecca Parker calls in to discuss Christianity in the second millennium.
With all the sleet and freezing rain that seized up our brains in the past week, it would be easy to forget that in the midst of the first sneaux day last Friday, the Jindal administration presented its budget proposal. The budget is approximately $25 billion. And that’s about $600 million less than the spending for the current fiscal year.
The Revenue Estimating Conference, which crunches the numbers on the state’s income every year, announced on Wednesday that revenues are $35 million short of what was expected for 2013-2014. But for the first time since Gov. Bobby Jindal took office, there should be no mid-year cuts to Louisiana's budget.