NEW FORECAST SHOWS LOWER SHORTFALL - Louisiana is expected to have a budget shortfall, when the “FISCAL CLIFF” happens July 1st as temporary sales taxes expire. Yesterday, the state income forecasting panel shared revised revenue projections from a $1 billion-dollar shortfall to around $648 Million. This new forecast is based on expected tax collection improvements, largely tied to the recent federal tax overhaul passed by Congress. So it means the state has about $340 million more to work with and while it’s an
improvement, the forecast underscores a shortfall which means more spending cuts may still happen. Speaker of the House Taylor Barras is a member of the Revenue Estimating Conference which will officially give the numbers lawmakers can use, he told Public Radio WRKF in Baton Rouge what the next steps will be.
"Now that it is recognized, our appropriations committee will meet Monday in the house and begin that process of allocating that 346 million," Barras said.
Gov. Edwards has outlined how he'd like to see the money spent. In a statement released Thursday, he called for restoring a $25 million cut to higher education and putting another $50 million towards TOPS. That would still leave the scholarship program underfunded — and deep cuts would remain in areas like health care and law enforcement.
According to Speaker Barras, enough House members may be willing to support a budget with $650 million in cuts. "I would estimate today that we probably have 53 votes that would allow that to leave and head on to the Senate," Barras said. If a state budget with $650 Million-dollars in cuts is passed, Governor John Bel Edwards has said he would not sign it into law. The House is expected to vote on the budget, which is House Bill 1 — next week. If it passes, it would move to the Senate.