Lawmakers wait for answers on budget surplus question
BATON ROUGE - State lawmakers have decided to put the budget numbers in the hands of the auditors after taking no action at the joint budget committee meeting Friday.
Whether the state ended its year with a budget surplus or deficit depends is unresolved, so the committee decided to wait to see what the auditors determine. That accounting should settle the dispute between Governor Bobby Jindal's Division of Administration and Treasurer John Kennedy, who has said he is thinking seriously about running for governor.
The administration claims a $179 million surplus. Kennedy said the state ended the year $141 million in the red. Both sides acknowledge they are using slightly different definitions and calculation methods.
"There hasn't been that many times in which there has been disputes, said Barry Dusse, state budget and planning director. "What we do is calculate according to statue and we've been doing this since this procedure was adopted back in 2002 as an agreement between all the parties."
Kennedy said he hopes the administration is right and wants to be sure before making plans for the money.
"The only reason we might have a surplus is because of this new found money by the division," said Kennedy. "Now, I hope we have a surplus. We can use that money but if we don't have a surplus it's just funny money, and if we spend that hundred and seventy plus million dollars its going to put us farther in the hole."
Auditors should have the final review done by the end of the year.