Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne is warning that lawmakers will not be able to cut their way to a balanced budget for next fiscal year. He testified in front of the House Appropriations Committee today and reiterated the governor’s call to wrap up the regular session in early May, so that a special session that addresses revenue can be called to tackle the fiscal cliff.

Dardenne has a challenge for lawmakers who disagree:

“Those of you, and there are many of you, who have been saying we just have to cut our way out of the budget, it’s your turn, cut the budget.”

Revenue issues can only be brought up in a special session this year.

The state is facing a one billion dollar fiscal cliff, but could see that reduced by as much as 300 million dollars once the federal tax cut is factored in. Dardenne says even under the rosiest projections, the cuts required would wreck popular state programs.

“You’re not going to be able to get around LDH (Louisiana Department of Health), it’s the elephant in the room. You’re not going to be able to get around higher ed. To be able to make the kind of cuts that we need to make is going to create the problems that I’m describing to you.”

Dardenne says the state cannot afford to settle for another temporary solution. He says Louisiana needs a long term budget fix.

He says he’s already seeing the effects of the legislature’s inability to find a budget deal in the February special session.

“I got a letter from university medical center, it is basically a notice that they are withdrawing from their partnership effective July 1, based on the anticipation that there will be no funding available to them.”

The regular session is scheduled to end June 4th.