The House Appropriations Committee approved legislation on Wednesday that takes only $74 million from the rainy day fund, instead of the $119 million the governor recommended. The vote comes after a heated back and forth between the governor’s chief budget advisor and Republican lawmakers.
“Until I know that we have scrubbed everything that we can possibly do from a structure standpoint, from a policy standpoint, I cannot commit to using one time money on reoccurring expenses, period,” Covington Representative John Schroder said.
The budget plan that’s now heading to the House floor calls for cuts to prisons, colleges, and public schools, areas the governor is seeking to protect. Republican lawmakers have been pushing for reductions in state spending, but Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says the right time to reduce spending isn’t in the middle of the year.
“The time to fix your spending is when the budget is enacted. If you don’t want to spend as much money as is allowable, don’t spend it. Pass a budget that doesn’t spend as much money,” Dardenne said.
Schroder says the state is living outside its means, so the cuts have to be made. He says using one time money is irresponsible because it just kicks the can down the road, and we’ll be in the same predicament again next year.
“It’s downright sinful what we do to the families in this state, to bring them down to the Capitol, scare the crap out of them, and tell them we’re going to cut all the money,” Schroder said.
But Dardenne says he can’t understand the hesitance to use the rainy day fund when the state is facing a $304 million midyear deficit, because this is exactly why the fund was created.
“When you have a shortfall in the middle of the year, it is okay to use money that is not going to be coming back because the deficit in this year is not going to be coming back,” Dardenne said.
A bill that uses no rainy day dollars was also approved, and both proposals are expected to be heard Friday on the House floor.