Lawmakers are looking over the Governor’s proposal to eliminate a $304 million midyear deficit, ahead of next week’s special session to debate the plan. Statewide elected officials would see budget reductions, but higher education would be spared. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris says it’s important no stone is left unturned when it comes to spending reductions, but he doesn’t want students to be impacted again.
“I think higher ed has been cut more because it’s been convenient to feed LDH while higher ed is being cut. So that would be one of the last places I’m looking at,” Harris said.
The governor’s plan also includes using $119 million in the rainy day fund to minimize cuts to state agencies. But Harris is reluctant to dip into the rainy day fund, until the state addresses its spending problem.
“We’ve got to control our spending before we talk about anything else, or else we’re going to have to come back to the taxpayer year in and year out,” Harris said.
Once the special session begins on Monday, the House will begin discussions on what cuts will be made and they’ll send their plan to the Senate. Metairie Senator Danny Martiny says he’s not opposed to using rainy day dollars to prevent cuts that will really hit home with residents.
“I am not for cutting critical services. I’m not for letting people out of jail. But in the same way, I’m all in favor of making reasonable cuts if we can do that,” Martiny said.
Franklin Senator Bret Allain says he’s glad the governor spread the cuts around in his plan, and that he did not seek any additional revenue. But he says he is concerned that Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office would take a combined almost $6 million hit.
“Both for his escrow account and 5% of his working budget, and we need to dig into that a little further to make sure that that doesn’t affect the ability to do his job,” Allain said.