The Governor’s Office says a Republican lawmaker’s plan to close a $304 million dollar deficit would cripple public-private-hospitals, lead to the release of 4,500 inmates and make a historic cut to public schools. Communications Director Richard Carbo says Lance Harris of Alexandria’s proposal would devastate state agencies.
“Every one of the public private partnerships that communities depend on would close, waivers for children and families with disabilities would be lost, elderly people would be impacted,” Carbo said.
Harris released his proposal last week as an example of how the state can close a large midyear deficit without tapping tap into the rainy day fund. But Carbo says it is imperative rainy day dollars are used to ease some of the pain of the cuts.
“There’s no easy decisions at this point. So it’s going to be painful no matter what road we take. The decision is how painful do we need to make it on the people of Louisiana,” Carbo said.
Harris has also said the governor can make the necessary cuts without the need of a special session. But Carbo says without a special session, spending cuts will be focused primarily on health care, higher education and the Department of Corrections.
“We need to open up the entire budget to cut, not just these few small areas that Representative Harris targets in his plan, and that can only happen by bringing the legislature into a special session,” Carbo said.
But Harris stands by his suggestions. He says LDH’s budget has grown nearly 24% in just one year. He says the Department of Health’s spending is getting out of control and the governor can make cuts to that agency without the legislature getting involved.
“We’ve given them 738 million new dollars from this time year to the same time last year,” Harris said.
Harris believes the budget can be cut without cutting waivers for the developmentally disabled or reducing funding for hospitals.
“There has got to be somewhere in a $12.1 billion budget where they can find $127 million of cuts and not adversely affect the patients that need it,” Harris said.