Posted: Oct 8, 2012 3:59 PM by Russell Jones
BATON ROUGE - Top state lawmakers called the request for a special legislative session over healthcare cuts "unnecessary" and "an irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars" today.
State House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, and Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, made the comments in a a joint statement released today, in response to a request by Rep. Jerome "Dee" Richard, I-Houma, for the special session to discuss and potentially roll back cuts to the LSU System hospitals made by Gov. Jindal's administration.
"Tax payers shouldn't be forced to foot the bill for a special session if there is no clear proposal," Alario said. "Calling a special session without any substantive plan illustrating alternative suggestions for where these cuts should be taken is not a responsible action."
In his petition, Richard called to return funding for hospitals and prisons back to the same levels that were in the budget passed by the Legislature earlier in the year. Jindal's administration made deep cuts to both the LSU network of charity hospitals and shut down a state prison in DeQuincy, a move many lawmakers said caught them by surprise.
Today, Kleckley said the cuts were necessary due to Medicaid cuts made at the federal level.
"The federal government handed down $800 million in Medicaid reductions that forced LSU to make some very tough decisions," Kleckley said. "The committee meeting we had last week with LSU leaders was helpful and informative for everyone in attendance. As a result of this meeting, LSU has made a commitment to furnish "real time" updates to the members as discussions with community partners continue."
Richard needs one-third of each chamber's members to sign his petition for ballots to be sent out to lawmakers so they can vote whether to hold a session or not.