STATE SPENDING CUTS? - The Louisiana Legislature is back in session after adjourning late in March due to Coronavirus concerns. There’s a lot on tap for the coming weeks ahead and undoubtedly a big concern among lawmakers is how the Coronavirus affected state finances and what the long-lasting impact will be.
Yesterday, the Louisiana House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would cap state spending at 98 percent of expected revenue and apply the 2% to a surplus. The measure would not apply to the operating budget lawmakers are working on right now. But if it is approved and takes effect next year, it would cut about $200 million from the state’s budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year. Republican Rep. Rick Edmonds of Baton Rouge proposed the measure.
"It is a fiscal responsibilty to the tax payers of the state to do our very best job to spend their money well and to help them so that they are not overtaxed or our businesses aren't overtaxed," Edmonds explained.
Democrats on the committee said this measure would force even steeper cuts to state agencies that will be hit hard by the loss of state revenue from the coronavirus-induced economic downturn, and in particular to Healthcare and Higher Education. Committee member Barbara Carpenter, a Democrat from Baton Rouge shared her concerns.
"I think it would be devastating to even consider any cuts to healthcare at this point given the situation that we find ourselves with the Covid-19,"Carpenter said.
The Appropriations Committee also advanced legislation that would rewrite Louisiana's spending cap calculation to more tightly limit growth in government spending each year. The move would force more money into the rainy day fund. Similar proposals made in the past have failed to get support.