State representative discussed special session for $304 million budget deficit at Gentilly Terrace meeting
Louisiana State Representative Joseph Bouie visited the Gentilly Terrace neighborhood meeting to give his take on the two upcoming Louisiana legislative sessions in Baton Rouge, the first being a special session on Louisiana’s $304 million budget deficit.
The Gentilly Terrace and Gardens Improvement Association meeting took place on Feb. 8, and both Rep. Bouie and Councilmember Jared Brossett spoke at the meeting. Brossett discussed local issues like transportation and road work, while Bouie explained the two upcoming Louisiana legislative sessions taking place in Baton Rouge and why there was a need for special session to be held.
The state is currently facing a $304 million shortfall with four months left in the fiscal year, according to Bouie, so Gov. John Bell Edwards has called a special legislative session to balance the budget.
Bouie explained that Edwards’s plan consists of using Louisiana’s reserve “rainy day” fund to cover $119 million of the deficit, while supplying the rest of the funds from spending cuts and other measures.
“He can also cut from some statutory dedications with the approval of the joint committee on the legislative budget, which would be a total of $333 million,” Bouie said. “However, if he did that cut and they approved that, there would be devastating pain on the citizens of Louisiana, because what we would have to do then is go and cut further our education. We would have to cut K-12 (education), health, and hospitals again.”
Bouie said his colleagues “across the isle” don’t believe a special session or rainy day fund is necessary. According to Bouie, although they could technically “just make the cuts,” those cuts would result in serious setbacks on citizens and constituents in the state.
“What [Edwards] is proposing is to use the $119 million to take a minimal cut from 48 state agencies, so that way, everybody shares in this sacrifice for cutting.”
The later session in April will focus on the state’s structural issues with budgeting. Bouie said that the legislatively-created Task Force on Structural Changes in Budget and Tax Policy have recommended discussing efficiency and savings to avoid future similar budget deficits in the future.
“That’s where we as legislatures will talk about structural problems, so we don’t have to have this kind of situation year in and year out dealing with deficits.”
The legislature enters the session Monday (Feb. 13) and concludes the session at 12 a.m. on Feb. 22.