The "Fiscal Cliff" is upon us and is making news throughout the state as once again, Louisiana is looking at a roughly one billion dollar hole, if not much more.
How will the state solve the fiscal problem remains to be seen. Below are two perspectives, one from the conservative organization, Pelican Post and the second from Louisiana Budget Project.
You are likely following the debate over what to do about Louisiana’s so-called “Fiscal Cliff”. As we get closer and closer to the kickoff of the 2018 legislative session, this will only ramp up.
Unfortunately, too much of the news coverage and debate out of Baton Rouge seems to be focused on deciding just how much taxes should be raised to solve it.
Of course, you and I know what’s missing: a robust and substantive conversation about where and how we can prioritize and streamline government. This conversation about belt-tightening should happen before there’s any attempt to ask Louisiana taxpayers to pay a penny more of our hard-earned dollars in new taxes.
What’s also missing? Meaningful facts that define the actual scope of the problem we face today. For example:
- Louisiana’s state budget has grown more than 21% since 2016, while population growth and inflation have stayed essentially flat.
- We spend more in state and local government spending per capita than any other state in our region, and by more than 16% on average.
- Amid all this, Louisiana’s economy continues to suffer, with tens of thousands of citizens looking for work and the largest decline in household income in the nation.
Louisiana’s working families deserve better than the current debate.
You and I must make our voices heard and ensure our elected officials in Baton Rouge know that we expect them to work together to do everything they can to solve this budget challenge without having to come back to taxpayers for more money.
What else can you do?
- Consider Three Questions to Ask in Advance of Governor Edwards’ Budget Proposal as you review the Governor’s proposed budget from yesterday and, frankly, any other proposals that emerge in the coming days and weeks.
- Visit the Pelican Institute’s brand new website, which we’ll be updating consistently with new research and recommendations for how to bring jobs and opportunity back to Louisiana. Bookmark it today as your digital hub for news and information from Louisiana’s free-market voice.
- Follow us on social media! You can find us on Facebook and Twitter. Share our team’s research and commentary so your friends and followers can get the word out as well.
- Consider making a contribution to support the work of the Pelican Institute at such a critical crossroads for our state. Every dollar we raise is dedicated to telling the story of freedom and free enterprise, and making the case for policies that bring jobs and opportunity back to Louisiana.
- Forward this email to friends and neighbors, and encourage them to get involved.
This will be a significant debate, and the outcomes matter a lot to you and me and workers across the state. So, most importantly, stay engaged, ask hard questions, and stay informed.
LOUISIANA BUDGET PROJECT
The doomsday budget
The 2018-19 state budget plan from Gov. John Bel Edwards
, released Monday
, contains few surprises. The budget
had to account for more than $1 billion in temporary taxes that expire in July, which meant deep cuts to state hospitals, nursing homes, home care services for people with disabilities and a near-total evisceration of the popular TOPS scholarship program. The total state budget
- once federal matching funds are included, would drop by $2.8 billion from current-year levels. As always, the AP's Melinda Deslatte was there
The state's child welfare agency, veterans affairs department, coastal protection agency, highway department and Louisiana National Guard would be shielded from cuts. The K-12 public school financing formula also would be protected. But higher education and health programs would be on the chopping block because they have the fewest protected financing sources. About two-thirds of the $1 billion cut - $660 million - would hit health services, ballooning to $2.3 billion with lost federal and other matching cash. Steep reductions would fall on safety-net hospitals and clinics for the poor and programs that help thousands of elderly and disabled people. TOPS, which cost about $291 million this school year, would lose $233 million of its financing for the next academic year. College campuses would take an additional $26 million reduction, and the Go Grants program that provides needs-based funding for students would be cut in half.
Hospitals off the fiscal cliff
With apologies to college students who could lose their college scholarships, the biggest cuts in the governor's budget
would fall on health care providers and their patients. Adult day health and home health waivers for the elderly and people with disabilities, nursing home residents, mental health programs and substance abuse treatment programs would see major cuts. So would the public-private hospital partnerships, which replaced the old charity system. Julia O'Donoghue of Nola.com/The Times-Picayune
Governor Edwards has proposed eliminating $189 million worth of state funding for the private operators that run those hospitals. The reduction would result in a total loss of $769 million because federal money and other revenue generated by the hospitals themselves would have to be eliminated as well. A cut of that magnitude could cause these hospitals around the state to close, especially if the private organizations that partner with the state to run the hospitals decide to walk away from the institutions. "I don't know that we would have a single partner left" to oversee the hospitals, said Edwards if the health care cuts were adopted. ... The hospitals' contracts for faculty at the LSU Health Sciences Center, one of the state's public medical schools, in New Orleans and Tulane University School of Medicine would likely be slashed. "If those payments to the hospitals are cut significantly, those would be some of the services that will be affected," said Paul Salles, president and and chief executive officer of the Louisiana Hospital Association, in an interview last week.