Special Session Ends – Deficit Still Looms
By 6 PM Wednesday night it was hoped that our state's budget would be balanced. There no longer be a deficit. There would no longer be a huge shortfall between the money we need and the money we have. That did not happen.6 PM came and went. 6 PM came and went.The special session with the Louisiana Legislature is over. The budget deficit, though not as large, is still there.
What once was a $940 million deficit is now just $30 million. But that is only for the remainder of this fiscal year. When the new fiscal year begins the state will again be in the hole to the tune of $800 million. Even next year's budget deficit figure looks better compared to the $2-billion deficit that was being speculated. There was some progress in the special session. Just not enough progress.
There were last minute attempts to close the budget gap. The state sales tax was increased by one cent as forecast. It appears as though there are enough revenue generating measures and spending cuts now in place that should stave off larger cuts in higher education and health care services. Still it's not enough.
It's not a great day for the state of Louisiana.
The words of Governor John Bel Edwards as reported by the Louisiana Radio Network. Edwards was asked his feelings shortly after the special session came to an end. Immediately questions were swirling about the possibility of another special session to deal with next fiscal year's budget crisis. Edwards didn't rule that option out but he did suggest that this session was the time to get the job done.
There won't be any options on the table for people to consider that will be anymore appetizing than those that we just went through and put before them.
If there is another special session called it will likely be set for the middle of June. You can bet higher taxes will again be on the agenda as lawmakers struggle with the reality of life and the detriment to their political life. Meanwhile the citizens of Louisiana are left wondering about the future of their children and their state.