Today, Governor John Bel Edwards released the following statement on the Revenue Estimating Conference meeting. The REC announced today that, following the special legislative session, Louisiana still faces an approximately $70 million budget shortfall for the current fiscal year that must be addressed by June 30. In addition, for the fiscal year that begins July 1, the REC announced that the budget deficit is now estimated at $750 million, indicating the legislature failed to act to bridge that budget gap during the special session.
“During the special session, I outlined a comprehensive plan to stabilize our budget in the short term and create a solid fiscal foundation for our state,” said Gov. Edwards. “Unfortunately, there were some members of the legislature who blocked our progress and refused to offer any alternatives to my plan. Refusing to vote for solutions of any kind is not ‘tackling the deficit.’ The people of Louisiana expect more from state government and we cannot continue to mismanage the state’s finances as we did under the previous administration and yet expect long term prosperity.
“I will continue to work with the legislature in good faith to address the significant challenges before us. Because the work was not completed in the special session, the cuts to critical state programs will be painful. I will do everything within my power to minimize the burden this places on the people of Louisiana, and I will work day and night to develop a plan that puts the people of Louisiana and their needs first.”
In February, the REC estimated that the current year’s budget deficit was more than $943 million, while next year’s deficit was more than $2 billion. Gov. Edwards called the Louisiana Legislature into a special session to solve the budget crisis, outlining his own plan to address the deficit that included a combination of spending cuts of more than $160 million and additional revenue raising measures.
Gov. Edwards wrote the call, or agenda, for the special session broad enough to allow legislators to identify additional spending cuts beyond what he proposed, a reduction in state contracts, and a reduction in statutory dedications.
During the current regular session, the Louisiana Constitution prohibits legislators from considering additional revenue raising measures to solve the budget crisis.
Edwards, has stated that it is likely the state will conduct another special session to deal with these deficits and that revenues will almost certainly need to be raised, through taxes. Others have indicated that taxes might be needed. In a recent video interview, Stephen Waguespack, President and CEO of LABI, the state's primary business lobby, said, the state has a spending, budget structure and a revenue problem. The Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras, indicated on Tuesday that taxes appears to be inevitable
One political party appears to take a different view. In an email Monday, in starting the regular session, the Louisiana Republican Party, while requesting contributions, said:
Today is the opening day of the regular legislative session, and you can already see Governor Edwards laying the groundwork to raise your taxes AGAIN!.
The liberal Baton Rogue media have begun hammering Republicans who are standing up for you, fighting the massive tax hikes the Democrats are forcing on the people of Louisiana.
The press can’t understand a legislator that works for you – not for them. The Louisiana GOP is leading this fight, and we need you to stand with us by making a $5 donation to this fight.
It may not sound like much, but our strength is in our numbers. The people of Louisiana have had enough of these taxes, and now we need to fight back.