Governor Edwards Proposes Budget Cuts To Health Care, Higher Ed. & TOPS
Governor John Bel Edwards presented what he called his worst-case-scenario budget today, showcasing the impact that a billion dollar loss in state funding would have on many popular programs. The loss is a result of the impending expiration of a one cent sales tax this summer. Edwards says he is constitutionally limited to cutting money from two areas.
Louisiana requires the governor submit a balanced budget that takes into account projected funding levels. Edwards proposed the budget, but says he doesn’t want it passed.“These are the choice that have to be made when a billion dollars of revenue falls off the books and has to be replaced. This is what falling off the cliff looks like.”
In response, the governor proposed a tax reform plan to cover 994 million dollars of the budget gap.The GOP has indicated that they would approach the cliff by reducing spending, while the governor is seeking a revenue neutral tax reform plan. Edwards challenged legislative leaders to publicly present their plan.
“We should always strive to make government more efficient but we can’t sit here and honestly say that this problem can honestly be solved by cutting. If that’s what you believe, I can respect it, but stand up and show the people of Louisiana what you want to cut.”
The governor claims he has cut 600 million dollars in state general funds since he took office two years ago.
Slidell Senator Sharon Hewitt believes more cuts can be made to go along with any kind of tax reform plan.
“I do think that there are more opportunities on the expense side and I do think that you all have not spent the time honestly looking at our expenses.”
Baton Rouge Representative Rick Edmonds says the governor’s budget is not factoring in federal tax reform money.
“Since the feds have taken a stab at tax reform I believe there will be a significant piece of revenue that will be available to us.”
Edmond says the state could have an additional 200 to 400 million dollars as a result.