Cheap gas good for businesses, not for La. budget
BATON ROUGE - For consumers and business owners falling gas prices mean more money in the bank, but the state's budget could take a hit.
Local businesses like Billy Heroman's Flowers are benefiting from cheap gas prices. The florists deliver around 200 bouquets each day around Christmas using 35 delivery trucks. Owner "Buzzy" Heroman says it's wonderful for everyone to get relief at the gas pump.
"It has been a huge plus," he said. "We've kept our delivery prices the same. We've kept all our prices on the retail items the same."
While businesses benefit from cheap gas, Louisiana's budget isn't so lucky. Budget watcher Jan Moller says the state's budget loses $12 million for each dollar decrease in the annual average price of oil. He says the most vulnerable parts of the budget for cuts are health care and higher education.
"We've been having a tough time balancing our budget the last few years in Louisiana, and this could make that problem a little worse," said Moller. "We could be looking at more mid-year cuts, and we could be looking at more cuts next year in the upcoming budget cycle."
Moller says there's already talks of reducing the budget forecast again in January or February. On the other side of the gas pump, Heroman feels cheap gas is helping out a lot during the holidays.
"Politicians will have to make some tough decisions, and I'm glad that's not me," he said. "From an economic standpoint, everyone that fills up at the pump is going to be saving right now a dollar a gallon. So to me that's a huge economic stimulus right there."
The executive budget proposal is due in February. Then state legislators will vote on the budget during the legislative session that begins in April.