Dardenne: La. doesn't have luxury of sparing higher ed. cuts
BATON ROUGE - Gov. John Bel Edwards is planning an $18 million cut to public colleges to help close a state budget deficit, only months after higher education leaders thought they had escaped reductions.
The cut is about 2 percent of colleges' general state financing.
But the largest piece of Edwards' proposal to close a more than $300 million gap involves delaying $152 million in payments to health providers that care for Medicaid patients. The payments will be moved into the next fiscal year.
“Stabilizing Louisiana’s budget is my top priority, but we are still recovering from years of mismanagement,” said Gov. Edwards. “Unfortunately, our options are limited, and given the ongoing financial crisis of our state, nothing is painless anymore. However, we knew this shortfall existed and worked with state agencies to prepare for it without causing unnecessary harm.
“Our work in the 2017 legislative session will be more important than ever as we find ways to reform our state’s broken tax code so that we can make critical investments in higher education, TOPS and the future of our state. This isn’t the last of our budget challenges, and cuts for the current fiscal year will also be necessary and painful, but if we can work together in the regular session, Louisiana will be in a strong financial position for the future.”
Legislative leaders who were briefed on the plans ahead of a Friday presentation to the joint House and Senate budget committee described the proposals.
Many cuts can be made without legislative approval.
The deficit is from the budget year that ended June 30, when state income fell below projections
Net cuts to state financing for agencies equal $43 million and include:
-$18.2 million to higher education systems
-$12 million to the Department of Health
-$3.1 million to the Executive Department (which includes the governor's office and the governor's Division of Administration)
-$2.7 million to Public Safety Services (which includes the Louisiana State Police and Office of Motor Vehicles)
-$2.5 million to the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
-$2.2 million to the Department of Education
-$799,000 to the Department of Children and Family Services (which will force a loss of $1.3 million in federal funds)
-$377,000 to the Department of Veterans Affairs
-$134,000 to the Department of Civil Service