La. State Budget Shortfall Forecast Lower Than Expected

Apr 13, 2018

Credit Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News

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 

Taylor Barras, La. House Speaker
Credit Courtesy: La.Gov

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.

John Bel Edwards, Governor-Louisiana
Credit Courtesy: La.Gov

  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.