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Dardenne: Another special session might be needed, TOPS up in air for next year
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dardenneTaxes, another special session, cuts, no hokus pokus, TOPS, two billion dollar deficit--all of these were topics of discussion as Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards's Commissioner of Division of Administration, Jay Dardenne, was a guest on Jeff Crouere's Ringside politics program today. 

To say the pressure the Louisiana legislators is not on is a total understatement.  Louisiana must deal with the budget shortfall, not only of roughly $1 billion for the present year, but over $2 billion for the upcoming fiscal year--within the next week, or else, another special session will be needed to be called.

Currently, Louisiana is in the hole roughly $2.2 billion after accounting for the cuts and tax raising that has occurred over this session.

The upcoming legislative session which will last until the early days of June, cannot really be utilized to address the budget for the fiscal year 2016-17, beginning July 1 because the legislative session this year is not a fiscal year, meaning revenues cannot be raised.

The enormity of the problem will require revenue increases, primarily because there are few places to cut.  As of now, the legislature has only been able to identify about 100 million dollars in cuts.

Here are some of the major points discussed in the radio broadcast with Crouere:

Louisiana has had eight years of mismanagement;

All of the candidates running for governor were basically resigned to the fact that revenues would be needed for the upcoming session, even David Vitter--ultimately, all would have had to step up to fix the problem which would have meant, taxes;

The Edwards administraton will be truthful regarding the breadth and depth of the fiscal crises

There will likely be a compromise on the sales tax duration;

Louisiana must not be looking at short-term fixes because the rating agencies don't want this type of practice; 

Legislators were also responsible for the budget problem but the Jindal administration did not provide reliable information;

The administration would like to see a drop in corporate and personal income tax rates to lower single digits; 

Sin tax for cigarettes and alcohol, has not moved in the House and the tax on beverage has not increased since 1948; 

Legislators need to realize the severity of the problem and hopefully, the idea of deficit spending, which was floating around yesterday, is not the way to proceed.

TOPS shortfall will be born on the universities this year, but next year, the program is up in the air because of the two billion dollar hole


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