Special Session Ends With Lawmakers Tapping $99M From Rainy Day Fund
After 10 days of what became some heated debates, the special session ended with lawmakers agreeing to use $99 million from the rainy day fund to address a $304 million midyear deficit. Governor John Bel Edwards originally asked legislators to use the full $119 million available to minimize cuts to state agencies. But he says he’s pleased with the outcome.
“At the end of the day rather than $119 million in rainy day that I wanted to use, the legislature decided that $99 million was the appropriate amount. That’s 83% of what I asked for. I’ll take that,” Edwards said.
But budget cuts are still coming to state agencies. The Department of Health will take the biggest hit with a 36-million dollar cut. Statewide elected officials will have their budget cuts and there will be a reduction in spending on roadwork. But Edwards says some critical state services were spared.
“We will not cut higher education to resolve this midyear deficit. We’re not going to cut K-12 education. We’re not going to adversely impact the Department of Corrections or the Department of Children and Family Services,” Edwards said.
Edwards says the most concerning part of the plan is the $12 million in attrition savings lawmakers believe they identified in funded vacancies in state government. The governor says they will work to identify every dollar that can be saved through funded vacancies, but he’s skeptical that much money is available.
“The legislation also gives us the ability, the flexibility, to address with cuts whatever attrition dollars are not there,” Edwards said.