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Medicaid, TOPS, public schools all running out of money

11 months 6 days 6 hours ago December 30, 2015 Dec 30, 2015 Wednesday, December 30 2015 December 30, 2015 12:58 PM in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - The state's budget woes keep getting worse. Louisiana now has a $2.65 billion budget hole to be filled by June.

Incoming Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne announced the sobering news Tuesday at LSU. "This is the clear view, the true picture for where we are today. It's not pretty, it's not sugar coated. It's just the facts and it's the truth," he said.

The most immediate crisis is a $750 million shortfall for the current fiscal year.

Money for Medicaid, TOPS, public schools, and sheriffs who are housing state prisoners could run out in a few months.

-Medicaid is short $250 million
-TOPS is short $21 million
-Public Schools are short $20 million
-State Prisoner Housing is short $3 million

Dardenne said the next fiscal year which begins in June has an estimated $1.9 billion shortfall.

Dardenne said he doesn't have a plan yet but "all options are on the table" for raising money or cutting spending.

A number of fiscal experts tell News 2 the way to raise money immediately is to increase the sales tax or the gasoline tax.

Incoming Governor-Elect John Bel Edwards has said he opposes increasing the sales tax and income tax.

In November when the state was facing its first round of mid-year budget cuts, Governor Bobby Jindal, who had just recently quit his presidential campaign, pledged to balance the budget and not pass the fiscal crisis on to the next governor.

Dardenne said Tuesday that's not how things panned out: "If he said he's not passing on fiscal problems to the next governor, then that's simply an incorrect statement."

"The state budget is balanced, like it has been every year for eight years in a row. We made a choice not to raise taxes for eight years and instead to cut the size of government in order to balance the budget. Raising taxes hurts job creators and small businesses," was the response from the Jindal camp. "Raising taxes would be an easy way for government to be flush with money again, but we have always believed and continue to believe that raising taxes is the wrong approach for our economy."

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