The just concluded special legislative session dealt with an estimated three hundred four million dollars shortfall in the state budget. Members of the area’s delegation had praise for the Governor’s handling of the current state budget shortfalls.
One of the big arguments was over withdrawing funds from the Rainy Day Fund. Some wanted to withdraw one hundred nineteen million dollars, some nothing, and the compromise was reached at ninety-nine million.
Area Representative Terry Brown said “my goal was to fund schools, hospitals, and infrastructure in the parishes in his district. We took care of the health unit and Natchitoches Parish Hospital.”
Senator Gerald Long says, “About two hundred five million dollars of the shortfall was absorbed through cuts in the Department of Health and Human Services. Long adds “most other state departments will have a 2 to 3 percent reduction.”
Funding for education, K-12 schools, state medical facilities and health units, and others providing state services were protected during the special session. Both Long and Brown had praise for Governor John Bel Edwards’ handling of the State’s finances. Long put it this way, “Governor Edwards was absolutely remarkable in dealing with the state budget situation.”
As for the future, the regular legislative session this spring will have to tackle what Senator Long terms “a weak economy, a decrease in oil and gas revenues, and the need for more economic growth.” Representative Brown says, “The Easter Bunny is not going to show up and pay the indebtedness of the State.” Brown says some of the spending priorities need to be changed in order to continue state services to all Louisianians who need them.