Lawmakers Consider ‘Rainy Day’ Fund
A day after the state’s revenue forecasting agency downgraded income projections by more than $200 million, lawmakers must now weigh whether or not to dip into the state’s ‘rainy day’ fund to close the budget gap.
House Speaker Chuck Kleckley says he sees few options that would not involve further deep cuts to the state’s higher education and healthcare systems.
“I have McNeese State University in Lake Charles, and McNeese has made it very clear to me that there’s not a whole lot left to cut,” Kleckley says. “And I’ve had meetings with Secretary (Bruce) Greenstein at DHH, and he tells me there’s not a whole lot there to cut.”
The Revenue Estimating Conference estimated lesser than predicted revenues, downgrading this year’s forecast by $211 million and next year’s by $304 million.
Lawmakers must now decide on how to close that gap. With just over two months left in the fiscal year, many state agencies have already spent much of the money they expected. If they decide to make a withdrawl from the Budget Stabilization Fund, two-thirds of the House and Senate must approve the measure.
The ‘rainy day’ fund was last used in 2010 when legislators voted to withdraw more than $198 million. Louisiana is required to have a balanced budget every year.