Recently, Harris offered a plan to deal with the Louisiana budget problem which again is in the hundreds of millions of dollars, which over the past two years, have been temporarily fixed with the use of tax increases and budget cuts.
In a recent interview, Harris stated the Louisiana budget has increased 4% per year while the consumer price index has increased by only 2% per year.
On Wednesday, Edwards released what it called "additional information regarding the budget proposal from Rep. Lance Harris".
The plan, released on Thursday, would:
- Defund every public-private partnership hospitals across the state (Lake Charles, Alexandria, Bogalusa, Monroe, Lafayette, Women’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, Our Lady of the Lake in Baton Rouge, Shreveport and New Orleans);
- Cut the Department of Corrections leading to the release of more than 4,500 inmates;
- Make a historic cut to K-12 education affecting more than 700,000 students across the state; and
- Cut funding for the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.
“In the year since I’ve taken office, this is the first alternative plan that has been proposed,” said Gov. Edwards. “This plan is proof that it is not only necessary for a special session but use of the Rainy Day Fund is essential. Combining the two is, by far, the most responsible approach until the legislature convenes in April to reform our tax code. I am looking forward to working with the legislature in the coming weeks, but it's clear that no plan will be without pain to Louisiana's families. Ultimately, it's up to all of us to lessen the burden the cuts will have."
Under the constitution, without a special session, spending cuts will be focused primarily on health care, higher education and the Department of Corrections, as evidenced by Rep. Harris' plan. Gov. Edwards is suggesting the use of the Rainy Day Fund to help eliminate the more than $300 million shortfall and considering a special session of the legislature to make cuts across the entire state budget, rather than the concentrated areas that would be cut without a special session.
Following the release of the plan, the Governor's Office has received a growing number of emails and letters in opposition from a wide variety of stakeholders, including (individual letters are linked):
- The Public-Private Partnerships:
- 24 Federally Qualified Health Centers in Louisiana:
- Access Health Louisiana – Kenner, LA
- Baton Rouge Primary Care Collaborative – Baton Rouge, LA
- Care South – Baton Rouge, Donaldsonville and Plaquemine, LA
- Crescent Care – New Orleans, LA
- David Raines Community Health Centers – Bossier, Gillan, Haynesville, Minden and Shreveport, LA
- Daughters of Charities Health Centers – New Orleans, LA
- EXCELLth Primary Health Care – New Orleans, LA
- Iberia Comprehensive Community Health Center – New Iberia, LA
- Innis, Livonia, Maringouin, Community Health Centers – Batchelor, LA
- Common Ground Health Clinic – New Orleans, LA
- Jefferson Community Health Care Centers – Avondale, Marrero, River Ridge and Lafitte, LA
- Morehouse Community Medical Centers – Bastrop, Marion, Mer Rouge and West Monroe, LA
- NOELA Community Health Center – New Orleans, LA
- Odyssey House Louisiana- New Orleans, LA
- Primary Care Providers for a Healthy Feliciana – Clinton, LA
- Southeast Community Health Systems – Zachary, LA
- Southwest Louisiana Primary Health Care – Opelousas, LA
- Start Community Health Center – Houma, Thibodeaux and New Orleans, LA
- St. Thomas Community Health Center – New Orleans, LA
- SWLA Center for Health Services – Lake Charles, LA
- Teche Action Clinics – Franklin, Baldwin, Morgan City, Pierre Part, Houma, Edgard and Reserve, LA
- Winn Community Health Center – Winnefield, LA
- The Rural Hospital Coalition
- Sheriff Newell Normand
- Louisiana’s Education Leaders:
- The Louisiana Association of Educators
- The Louisiana Association of Principals
- The Louisiana Retired Teachers Association
- Jointly the Louisiana School Board Association and the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, including the leaders in Rapides Parish
- Nearly 500 individual educators across the state
- Coastal Restoration Advocates
- Jointly, the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, the Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, Restore or Retreat, the National Wildlife Federation, America’s Wetland Foundation, Audubon Louisiana
- Vanishing Paradise
- Louisiana Partnership for Children and Families
- Advocates for Senior Citizens
- More than 100 individual families from across the state, with a son or daughter with a developmental disability.