Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards releases what he calls the “worst case scenario” to fix the state’s impending billion-dollar deficit.
Governor Edwards said this is what “falling off the cliff looks like” because there’s not enough in the general fund for 2018-2019. He’s proposing major cuts with the most alarming being a 80-percent reduction in the TOPS scholarship. He said he does not want these cuts made and hopes law makers present him with a tax package plan.
Speaking before the legislative budget committee Monday morning, Governor Edwards outlines just how bad the state’s fiscal cliff is and what kind of cuts would be needed for it to balance.
“There’s not a cut on the list in the magnitude that we have it down in order to close the cliff that I think is good for the state. But it is my constitutional obligation and you are not going to find in the budget document contingent spending, you’re not going to find one-time money,” Edwards said.
Temporary taxes expire in late June leaving a 1.3-billion dollar shortfall. The Governor said an “improved economic forecast” leads him to ask lawmakers to replace only 994-million in permanent revenue. However, cuts will still need to be made. His proposal is based on, if lawmakers do not give him a plan to fill the budget gap.
“I firmly believe in order to move forward from where we are, we need to be honest. We can’t have an honest conversation if you don’t have an honest document in front of you. So it’s honest, but it’s ugly,” Edwards said.
The executive budget proposal includes millions cut to health programs and an 80-percent decrease in the TOPS scholarship. Despite the governor showing his support for the program.
“What I propose is that we pay for TOPS, 100 percent of it. That’s as simple and straight forward as I can be. I want to pay for TOPS,” Edwards said.
In the budget documents, he said he does not support or endorse these cuts and hope they never happen.
“There’s a majority in the legislature, in the House and in the Senate, who want to permanently fix this cliff and allow Louisiana to move forward and prosper. Let’s prove we are better than what’s going on in Washington,” Edwards said.
Edwards said he’s still not ruling out a special session in February before the regular session begins in March. However he wants to see a detailed budget plan from lawmakers first.
To read the budget proposal, click here.