After one legislative session after another in which taxes were raised or rainy day money was spent and in which government has been cut deeply, Edwards has rolled out new information about the upcoming budget mess that also needs massive repair.
This proposal formally appears to request to one-time money, fund sweeps and merely to cut governmental services based upon the actual revenues received, meaning no taxes. However, Edwards notes that important services will not be funded, such as TOPS, thus, appears to be open to raising revenues to accomodate for those desired benefits.
Here is a press statement by the Governor’s office regarding the upcoming legislative session and the budget proposals.
Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards released the following statement regarding the release of the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Executive Budget. In keeping with his commitment to honest budgeting, Gov. Edwards’ budget proposal does not include one-time money for recurring expenses or fund sweeps, includes input from every agency across state government, and spends only funds the state is projected to take in over the next fiscal year. The budget is balanced by recognizing $440 million less revenue for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2017.
“Since day one, I have committed to open and honest budgeting that does not rely on the gimmicks of the past to hide the state’s financial problems,” said Gov. Edwards. “This is not the budget proposal I want to present and should serve as a starting point for the legislature. For the second year in a row, my budget plan contains no one-time money to pay for recurring expenses and no fund sweeps. The budget I am submitting only spends money the state is projected to have for the next fiscal year, meaning that many state services that I, and the people of Louisiana, consider to be important are not yet funded. Our work during the next special session will be critical as we structurally reform the state’s budgeting practices. In doing that, we will ensure that our state brings in a sufficient amount of revenue to fund our priorities and put Louisiana on a path to prosperity.
Included in the budget proposal is a list of priority expenditures identified by the administration. In the regular session, Gov. Edwards will submit a plan to the legislature to fund these priorities, including fully funding the TOPS program. As part of the list, Gov. Edwards has also indicated his intent to put more funds into the classroom by increasing the base MFP.
“My goal is to fully fund critical priorities of our state, most notably the TOPS program and transportation, but we cannot do that without making reforms and without additional revenue,” Gov. Edwards continued. “This is a critical moment for our state, but I am confident that we can make the changes we need to so the priorities I have identified can be funded for the people of our state.”
In 2016, Gov. Edwards proposed additional revenue to fully fund the TOPS program and other state priorities. However, those measures were blocked by a minority in the legislature.
In FY 18, the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is projecting a $43.2 million state match shortfall for infrastructure projects and continues to have $13.1 billion backlog that Gov. Edwards inherited. The FY 18 shortfall, when combined with federal match, totals $216 million and could fund 546 miles of highway overlay, 360 replacements of 120-foot bridges, 107 replacements of 300-foot bridges.