FROM GOVERNOR'S OFFICE
Today, Governor John Bel Edwards testified before the House Appropriations Committee to present the updated executive budget for Fiscal Year 2016-2017. Following the special legislative session, the budget deficit for the next fiscal year dropped from more than $2 billion to roughly $750 million. Gov. Edwards and Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne outlined the proposed cuts to the committee.
“This is not the budget I want to present to the people of Louisiana, and it is not the budget I want to see implemented,” said Gov. Edwards. “This budget represents our best effort to fund the priorities that the vast majority of the people of our state consider to be important. I have gone line by line in this budget to make efficiencies, find savings, and fund the critical programs we need. A second special session will be needed soon to close the remaining shortfall, and I am hopeful that the legislature will work with me to eliminate this shortfall.”
Unlike budget proposals from previous administrations, Gov. Edwards’ latest budget plan does not use one-time funds, which was cited as a cause in two recent credit rating downgrades, does not raid the transportation trust fund, and does not contain any fund sweeps. In addition, the updated proposal fully funds the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Military Affairs, while also doubling funding for the port priority project.
On Jan. 12, Gov. Edwards signed an executive order expanding the Medicaid program in the state of Louisiana. In the first year alone, Medicaid Expansion will save the State of Louisiana $184 million, funds that will be used to keep safety-net hospitals open and provide some additional funding for the TOPS program.
“Louisianans are already paying for Medicaid Expansion, but for years, we’ve sent our federal tax dollars to other states to fund healthcare for their working citizens,” Gov. Edwards continued. “More importantly, we can use these savings from expansion to restore funds to critical programs here in Louisiana. As we move forward with expansion, Louisiana will begin to see savings that we have spent years denying.”
Today, Governor John Bel Edwards announced his plans to continue to raise taxes saying, “Make no mistake, we need additional revenue.”
Americans for Prosperity state director John Kay issued the following statement in response:
“Governor Edwards should be ashamed of his lack of leadership in solving the budget crisis in Louisiana. In January, the Governor called for 'additional revenue' and subsequently signed the largest tax hike in Louisiana’s history into law.
“Governor Edwards is calling for more 'additional revenue' and coupling those comments with a call for a 'tax structure that produces revenue that is stable and predictable.' The Louisiana tax structure is broken and must be fixed, but the plan presented in the special session by Representative Walt Leger and supported by Governor Edwards is unacceptable and shows a disconnect with the people of Louisiana. That is not reform.
“Louisianans deserve a legislature and a Governor who will have a real, substantive conversation about cutting the state budget and fixing a tax system that is wrought with corporate welfare and cronyism. We have real fiscal problems in Louisiana, but our citizens not paying enough is not one of them."