state budget

REX FORTENBERRY / WRKF

The regular session ends in just two weeks, and the Senate Finance Committee is now grappling with the budget sent over from the House. Governor John Bel Edwards expects a difficult two weeks.

The Manship School’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs, along with WWNO — New Orleans Public Radio are hosting a Louisiana budget panel discussion in which students and experts will deliberate the current budget crisis in the state.

Students on the steps of the Louisiana state capitol.
Mallory Falk / WWNO

College students from across Louisiana gathered at the state capitol on Wednesday to protest budget cuts, as the legislature met to discuss the state's budget shortfall.

Classes at public universities have been canceled or over-enrolled. Favorite professors have been laid off. And now, predictions of severe cuts to the state's scholarship program, TOPS.

Keiyanu Mattocks is supposed to start classes at LSU Alexandria this summer.

One business-development leader watching Governor John Bel Edwards outline a severe fiscal situation was Michael Hecht, president of Greater New Orleans, Incorporated. He sees two problems: cash-flow and correcting the budget structure.

Via Office of the Governor:

Good evening,

Tonight I speak to you as no other Louisiana governor has ever spoken to our state, because the challenges have never been so great, nor the impacts so severe for all of us who live, work or go to school here.

Just as importantly, though, I speak to you as a fellow Louisianan, a former small business owner, a concerned husband and a father.

On Thursday, February 11 at 6:30 p.m., Gov. John Bel Edwards will make a live address to the state regarding what his office is referring to as "historic" budget shortfalls.

The address will air live on 89.9-FM WWNO in New Orleans, 90.5-FM KTLN in the Houma-Thibodaux region, and will stream on WWNO.org.

After the conclusion of the address, New Orleans Public Radio News Director Eve Troeh will be joined by Stephanie Grace, Political Columnist with The Advocate, live in the studio for post-speech analysis.

Louisiana lawmakers heading back to a new session have already tapped the state Rainy Day Fund to fill budget shortfalls. A new report recommends the state tighten up rules on how that pile of money should be used.

Six weeks into the new state budget, and many are worriedly asking, “Is the new budget okay?”

“That’s a big unknown,” Legislative Fiscal Analyst Greg Albrecht told the Revenue Estimating Conference Friday. “We’re going to have a high degree of uncertainty, I think, in this overall package.”


The House Appropriations Committee approved the budget bill – HB 1 – Monday. But first, members exhibited their expertise in using the news for clues which couch cushions to look under for loose change.

Houma Rep. Joe Harrison snagged some Racing Commission money for the Board of Regents, which he discovered in a recent report from the Legislative Auditor.

“The Racing Commission, since the inception of ‘gaming’, was supposed to be giving a percentage of its money, its budget, to Regents,” Harrison told the committee. “So we can only go back five years, but that amounts to $2.8 million.”

Covington Rep. John Schroder found some spare change for disabilities programs by looking in the Department of Economic Development.

Tuesday’s House Ways and Means hearing on bills to cap the film tax credit program brought out some of the big names in Louisiana movie-making, like Lampton Enochs of the Oscar-winning Moonbot Studios, and former Dukes of Hazzard star, John Schneider.

“I have not won an Academy Award, but I’ve seen several films that have,” Schneider said, eliciting laughter from committee members and the packed audience in attendance.

But charmed as lawmakers were by the big names, it was Louisiana residents working in the movie industry who made the biggest impression. Dozens spoke against Alexandria Rep. Lance Harris’s bill that would scale the credits down to zero over the next five years.

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