By Jeff Palermo
Good budget news for the state has been hard to find, but we finally found some. Governor John Bel Edwards says the state ended up with a 143-million dollar surplus for the fiscal year that ended June 30th. Edwards says it's a sign Louisiana's economy is improving.
"We've been disciplined, we've worked extremely hard, and so the revenue is finally exceeding slightly the revenue forecasts," Edwards said.
The Edwards administration closed two mid-year shortfalls last year, but a higher than anticipated increase in personal income and sales tax collections created the surplus. The governor says the state's constitution limits how the surplus money can be used.
"You can do things like fund the rainy day account, you can fund the unfunded accrued liability, you can do capital construction projects and you can reduce debt," Edwards said.
Because of limits on how the surplus money can be spent, it can not be used to help the state close an anticipated one-billion dollar budget gap next fiscal year. Edwards says he's having positive meetings with legislators and business leaders over how the state can replace the loss of temporary taxes that expire in July.
"We don't really need new net revenue, we just have to replace the temporary revenue with permanent revenue and we are going to set the stage for a level of prosperity that the state hasn't seen for decades," Edwards said.