It’s budget day for the full House, and lawmakers are not looking forward to grappling with the $26-billion spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July first.
“I don’t see any scenario where I can vote for the budget,” Representative Ted James (D-Baton Rouge) says of the plan.
“We’ve robbed Peter to pay Paul, and Peter’s broke,” states Representative Joe Harrison (R-Houma).
House Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger (D-New Orleans) says members can’t really do much with HB 1, the budget bill, except shift dollars from one need to another.
“Not knowing what the most recent tax collections are yet, not having a Revenue Estimating Conference meeting yet, limits our ability to try to continue to address some of these needs,” Leger says. Until the new revenue numbers are out, he says the best thing is to move the budget bill along. “Send it over to the Senate and let them have their way.”
Lake Charles Representative Brett Geymann (R), a leader of the Fiscal Hawks, says he’s planning to propose up to a hundred million dollars in cuts to this budget, anticipating the fiscal cliff the state faces with the next budget.
“What we’re still looking at is about a 940-million to 1.5-billion dollar deficit next year of money that won’t be back.,” Geymann states. “So the question for us is are we going to try to address some of that this year so that next year is more manageable?”
Harrison says he just hopes all his fellow House members do some serious soul-searching before casting their budget votes today.
“We have to live with what we’ve created—or taken away,” Harrison warns. “That’s the scary thing that some people forget. Unfortunately we also often forget what we’re here for, and that is serving the constituents of our state.”