Thursday, 13 June 2019 08:42

PAR says Louisiana legislative session 2019 more stabilization, not reform

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Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about the 2019 legislative season was the lack of extraordinary sessions. For the first year since the governor and current legislators were elected in 2015, we had no special session. Whether the reason was fatigue or election politics, our leaders in the Capitol determined that seven special sessions over the previous three years was enough. One major factor - and the most important characteristic of this session - was the existence of a more stable budget outlook based on a sales tax revenue stream established last year after much political wrangling. The 2019 session was the least contentious fiscal debate since the post-Katrina era. There were no mid-year budget cuts to adjust around, no drawdowns on the state rainy day fund and no obvious short-term gimmicks to prop the budget. The main theme was which programs to expand, not which to cut.

Despite this being a "fiscal" session, hot button social issues such as abortion and the death penalty gathered a lot of attention. However, several important fiscal issues should be noted. Teachers got a pay raise, but the burdens of the state pension system took the edge off their gains. At long last, early childhood education got its foot in the door for a state appropriation that is expected to continue or increase in years ahead, but advocates may be surprised to see no overall boost in the number of children served by the program next year. A pot of BP oil-spill settlement money became a free-for-all road program grab, the manner and priorities of which will be questioned for years to come. In the end, for so many issues, there is still a need for comprehensive reform that did not happen.

Budget realities
The general appropriations budget, including federal dollars, will increase $784 million to $29.5 billion for the 2020 fiscal year that will begin July 1. Total spending, including the legislative and judicial branches, debt and other items not included in the general appropriations bill, will reach $33.8 billion.
Spending from the state general fund, based on state taxes and revenue, is set at nearly $9.9 billion, a rise by $246 million above the level for the current year. The additional general fund money comes mainly from individual income, sales and severance taxes and represents a 2.6% increase.*

Total means of financing for health care will rise $1.1 the increase is federal money. A budget factor to for the Medicaid expansion for adults. Starting in match rate for the Medicaid expansion from 7% to the program. So far, Medicaid expansion costs have applied to the managed care organizations covering

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