In Baton Rouge today the House Appropriations Committee will begin the long process of attempting to hammer out a budget before the end of the regular session. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne doubts the legislature can pass a spending plan facing a billion dollar revenue shortfall.
“The legislature will not be able to pass a budget in the regular session because the cuts will be too draconian and too dramatic.”
Dardenne says because of a lack of revenues, deep cuts will be needed in the areas of health care, higher education, and TOPS. He says it will result in layoffs in state government and in the private sector.
“So much of the money that the state does not have goes into the private market to provide services, particularly in the health care arena.”
Dardenne made comments on Talk Louisiana with Jim Engster
But Appropriations Chairman Rep. Cameron Henry disagrees, saying the budget gap only amounts to a fraction of the total budget. Cameron believes the legislature will find the cuts necessary to avoid having to enter a special session.
“To say that we don’t have enough money in a 30 billion dollar budget to cover everything, I think that’s a stretch at this point.”
Henry says part of the reason for the budget gap is that state agencies are requesting more money than they did last year.
The Republican from Metairie says before assuming the state needs more revenue, legislators should look at making cuts to the Department of Health’s budget.
“I think you will always have to look at the Louisiana Department of Health. In the 30 billion dollar budget the Department of Health makes up half of it, that’s 15 billion dollars.” The regular session is scheduled to end June 4th