Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne warned we will likely face hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts for the fiscal year that begins in July.

The Revenue Estimating Conference adopted this forecast ahead of the budget that will be presented in February. Dardenne said, unfortunately, the budget will have to include cuts to higher education and healthcare.

“That is just the nature of our system where those are unprotected constitutionally and so they are the biggest parts of the budget and usually wind up taking the biggest hit,” said Dardenne.

The exact number adopted was a $228 million drop from this year, but Dardenne said it’s just too early to know what the real number will be given the economy’s volatility and the chance for more federal assistance.

“We are also waiting to see if we get any money from a new federal stimulus which President Biden suggests is going to happen. But, obviously, Congress is going to have to enact that,” said Dardenne.

Dardenne said it’s tough to see our budget get slammed by the pandemic considering just a year ago it had been stabilized.

“We were in a position where we thought we would finally be able to plus-up higher education. We had a surplus and we had money that we were going to be able to invest in priorities for Louisiana like early childhood education,” said Dardenne.

(Story written by Matt Doyle/Louisiana Radio Network)