State lawmakers are gearing up for the third special session in just one year, after the Revenue Estimating Conference recognized a budget shortfall of about $313 million for the current fiscal year. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says at this point, a special session is inevitable so the cuts can be spread around.
“The limitations on what the governor can cut on his own are so tight that it would require a disproportionate amount of cuts to higher education, healthcare, other areas of government that we think just can’t take those cuts right now,” Dardenne said.
Dardenne says they plan to use money from the rainy day fund to close some of the gap, but that still leaves about another 200 million dollars in possible cuts. He says after years of budget cuts, this next round will be especially painful.
“We’ve already cut $313 million out of the budget to address the shortfall from last fiscal year. So the only place to go is going to be in areas that are going to be very, very difficult to accomplish,” Dardenne said.
Dardenne says there doesn’t seem to be much of an appetite among legislators to raise additional revenue. He says lawmakers raised nearly $2 billion in taxes last year, but it just wasn’t enough to balance the budget.
“I think there was a hope and a prayer that the money that was raised would be larger than what it’s proven to be. We said at the time it wouldn’t be, and now it’s proven to be correct, it’s not. So the legislature will have to decide what it wants to do,” Dardenne said.