The American Press on state having serious revenue problem:

April 21

The American Press on state having serious revenue problem:

Now that Gov. Bobby Jindal's tax reform push has been declared a luxury, state lawmakers can refocus their attention on the necessities of the state budget.

They now must delve into the particulars of the governor's proposed $24.7 billion budget for fiscal year 2013-2014. What they'll find, many observers note, is a budget that is balanced like a house of cards, based on the use of one-time money and contingencies, aka assumptions of incoming revenue, that may not occur.

State Treasurer John Kennedy told the American Press that the Jindal administration is banking on a $60 million tobacco bond settlement that he believes has a 60 percent chance of not materializing. If it doesn't, state higher education will absorb the bulk of the resulting cuts.

That's just the tip of the budgeting iceberg. State Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Moss Bluff, who heads the evermore formidable Fiscal Hawks in the state House, contends that the use of one-time money in the state budget is unconstitutional and the use of contingencies like the sale of state property is, at best, speculative. ...

The state's health care and higher education systems are now bare-boned. Kennedy points out that the state's higher education spending dropped from $1.6 billion in 2009 to $300 million for the upcoming year. Some, but not all of that, have been made up through tuition increases. The loss of money has resulted in universities losing faculty, increasing classroom sizes and delaying maintenance.

What the Jindal administration has to own is that since the governor first took office in 2009, there have been five consecutive years of mid-year budget cuts to state agencies. In the wake of last year's regular legislative session, lawmakers who had more than a passing knowledge of the budget whispered that mid-year cuts were inevitable.

Now, the governor may be looking at a not-so-enviable six-for-six record.

Health care remains the huge elephant in the room, a beast with a ravenous appetite that consumes more and more of the state budget. Maybe Jindal's privatization of the public hospitals will eventually act as a diet for the monster, but in the meantime, Jindal and his acolytes must realize the state has a revenue problem.

If they don't, health care and higher ed in Louisiana will continue to be gutted by a man, who, ironically, formerly headed both departments.


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