Gov. John Bel Edwards released his budget blueprint for the 2017-18 fiscal year on Thursday. It is built on $9.469 billion in state general fund dollars, which is $155 million less than in the current budget. Overall spending would increase by $1.4 billion. The year-over-year increase is mainly due to an increase in federal dollars that support healthcare services.
The Louisiana Budget Project released the following statement:
“Compared to what we’ve seen in recent years, this is a solid and responsible budget plan that tries to limit the pain of cuts to state services given the current revenue picture. But it doesn’t come close to taking Louisiana where it needs to go and leaves too many of our people behind.
“It cuts money for public colleges and universities, reduces funding for safety net hospitals, and fails to keep up with the rising cost of K-12 education. Nor does it address the long backlog of needs that have gone neglected in recent years: Need-based college aid, early childhood education for children from birth to 3, home- and community-based services for people with disabilities and basic upkeep of roads, bridges and college campuses.
“Legislators should also keep in mind that the relative stability represented by this budget plan is only fleeting, as Louisiana faces a $1.2 billion fiscal “cliff” in 16 months when several revenue measures are set to expire. This cliff, along with the many needs that are not being funded, is why fundamental reform of Louisiana’s broken tax system cannot wait.”