Debate Brewing Over Whether To Tap Into Rainy Day Fund
Several Republican in the state House say it would be a bad idea to use the Rainy Day Fund to reduce the state’s $313 million mid-year budget deficit. Alexandria Representative Lance Harris, who chairs the House Republican Delegation, says the state has to stop dipping into the Rainy Day Fund every time it has budget troubles.
“So we need to come to the realization that we cannot keep using one time money to fix an ongoing problem.”
But Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says using the Rainy Day fund is necessary to soften cuts critical services like higher education and healthcare.
“And already having cut $313 million out of the budget this year to make up for last year’s shortfall, to cut another $300 million plus, is going to prove to be very painful.”
Harris says when he entered the legislature five years ago, the Rainy Day Fund had over $850 million in it, and today it has $357 million. He says the state has a spending problem.
“It’s like somebody taking out of the retirement and never putting it back in and at the end of the day their assets have depleted and they have nothing. That’s what I’m concerned about.”
It will take a 2/3 vote in both the House and Senate to access money from the Rainy Day Fund. Dardenne says even with the Rainy Day Fund, more cuts will be required. He says this fund is designed to address a situation like the state is currently facing.
“We’re using this one time money to address what we hope would be one time cuts in the current fiscal year. This is precisely what the Rainy Day Fund was set up for.”