Louisiana deficit plans: Cut list devised for possible gap

Louisiana’s safety-net hospitals, public colleges and local sheriffs housing state prisoners could face cuts, while the opening of Louisiana’s new youth prison facility could be delayed, if the state’s income projections come up short this year.

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration presented its first ideas for up to $60 million in cuts it would suggest if Louisiana faces a midyear deficit. The three-page spreadsheet was sent to lawmakers with a caveat the proposals could change — but agencies are planning, just in case.

“These are not cuts that we would ever want to make,” Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, Edwards’ budget adviser, told lawmakers. “We hope we don’t get to this point…”

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Hospitals, colleges, sheriffs eyed for budget cuts if Louisiana revenue insufficient

Louisiana’s safety-net hospitals, public colleges and local sheriffs housing state prisoners could face budget cuts, while the opening of the state’s new youth prison could be delayed, if government income projections come up short this year. That’s the take-away from the first round of ideas submitted by Gov. John Bel Edwards‘ administration for as much as $60 million in cuts if Louisiana faces a midyear deficit.

The three-page spreadsheet was sent to lawmakers with a caveat the proposals could change. Agencies are planning for cuts, just in case…

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Former Gov. Bobby Jindal joins Ares Management investment firm as operating adviser

Former Gov. Bobby Jindal is taking up a new role in global investment management, Ares Management confirmed to The Advocate on Tuesday.

The Greater Baton Rouge Business Report first reported that Jindal sent an email to friends on Tuesday announcing that he has signed on to become an operating adviser for the a Los Angeles-based global asset manager. Business Report publisher Rolfe McCollister is a long-time Jindal ally.

The Advocate independently confirmed the email’s contents with one of its recipients, and a company spokesman confirmed Jindal’s role as an operating adviser…

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La. Politics: Compromise caucus a grand experiment

Bernie Pinsonat of Southern Media and Opinion Research is fond of saying, “If you’re in the middle in Louisiana politics then you’re roadkill.”

Things do tend to die if they piddle around too much in the middle of Louisiana’s highways, both conventionally and politically paved. It’s just too easy to become a target if you’re in the middle of the road. Plain and simple.

But there’s a quiet and likely small movement afoot in the state Legislature that dispenses with such notions. The thinking of those involved is that the middle of the road is the only place to be, particularly in the GOP-dominated House…

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Does Louisiana really spend just 11 percent of its gasoline tax revenue on roads?

The number reappears in Louisiana’s transportation debate over and over: 11 percent. Tax hike critics, Republican officials and conservative organizations say that’s the portion of state gasoline tax revenue spent on actual road and bridge work, and they used the argument to defeat a proposed gas tax increase this year.

Gov. John Bel Edwards‘ administration says that number is a myth, nowhere close to the financial reality of the spending in the Department of Transportation and Development. “The 11 percent deceives people, and it creates this perception that there’s waste and abuse,” said Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson…

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Packed room for Louisiana ex-governor’s 90th birthday

The Latest on the 90th birthday party for former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards (all times local):

8 p.m.

The glitzy 90th birthday party for Louisiana’s four-term former governor Edwin Edwards drew a packed house, including the state’s current chief executive and other elected officials from around the state.

Edwards said he was surprised and grateful by the turnout for Saturday night’s celebratory bash. He called it “one of the highlights of my long career.”

The $250-per-ticket event drew more than 500 people.

Edwards, a Democrat, was Louisiana’s most powerful political figure for decades, serving as governor for 16 years between 1972 and 1996. He’s known for his biting wit, political savvy and, later, a federal prison sentence after a corruption conviction…

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ICYMI: State budget shortfall recognized at $1.5B, but some legislators remain skeptical

State lawmakers on Friday recognized a $1.5 billion shortfall the state faces in the coming year, but some legislators expressed skepticism about the figure.

The state Legislature last year approved a temporary 1-cent sales tax hike that expires next year as a quick fix to shore up the state’s finances until a more permanent solution could be reached.

State budget leaders told budget leaders on Friday that the sales tax hike’s expiration; growth in expenses, including the need to cover costs that have been delayed; and oil projections, have pushed the previously anticipated billion-dollar figure to $1.5 billion…

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Early polls in state treasurer’s race released

With a little more than eight weeks to go, polls are showing marginal differences between the major, if little known, candidates for state treasurer.

The campaigns, however, see the same anemic numbers as proof their candidates are breaking away from the pack in the Oct. 14 election.

A poll released Thursday by former state Rep. John Schroder showed that 18 percent of 811 likely voters questioned earlier this week would vote for the Covington Republican…


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Stephen Waguespack: A plan may finally be coming together…

Believe it or not, there is finally some good news to report on the state budget front: Governor Edwards is signaling that he plans to propose a detailed, specific plan to address the upcoming fiscal cliff. This change in approach from our elected leader is welcomed, timely and much needed.

Up until now, the people of Louisiana were receiving very different signals.

Last session, the Governor deviated from the fiscal recommendations made by the HCR11 Task Force (a group driven by members of his own team) and instead drafted and proposed a commercial activity tax (CAT) that was riddled with unintended consequences. The proposal met defeat by a wave of bipartisan opposition and the Governor spent most of the remaining days of session asking the legislature to take the lead. The House, in turn, requested spending cuts instead of new taxes, a suggestion which was not well received on the 4th floor. Session eventually ended with a balanced budget, but not much else in terms of budget or tax reform to prepare for the upcoming fiscal cliff. A special session to be called this fall or early next year, to decide what to do with the Governor’s temporary taxes, seemed all but inevitable…


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$1 billion budget gap topic of John Bel Edwards meeting with Louisiana business leaders

Gov. John Bel Edwards met behind closed doors with 21 Louisiana business leaders at the Capitol on Tuesday (Aug. 8) to discuss the state government’s looming $1 billion-plus budget gap. The governor is expected to hold several more meetings with business interests and legislators over the next few months to figure out how to will handle such a shortfall without closing public hospitals and colleges.

“Their input is critically important as these business leaders are on the front lines creating jobs and working to build a strong economy. It’s their ideas, combined with the input from legislators and other community leaders, that will, hopefully, guide us as we look for consensus to avoid the fiscal cliff,” Edwards said.

Business activists have complained that constant changes to Louisiana’s taxes and tax breaks over the past two years have created problems for them. It’s been hard to predict businesses tax liabilities since 2015, when the Democratic governor’s predecessor, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, and legislators started making adjustments to the tax code to balance the state budget. The tax changes became more extreme in 2016, when Edwards and the Legislature were facing a previous $1 billion dollar budget gap…


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