John Kennedy discusses state budget situation
BATON ROUGE - Governor Bobby Jindal's administration plans to use a combination of hiring freezes, open position cuts and extra funds such as TOPS money to fill a $180 million gap in the state's budget.
Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said the plan reduces costs across state agencies while protecting critical services and higher education, which is especially vulnerable to cuts due to recent constitutional protections passed by voters.
"We worked closely with state agencies to create a responsible plan that balances the state budget without raising taxes and without affecting critical services," Nichols told lawmakers Friday at a budget hearing.
The administration's plan would eliminate 167 open state jobs, saving $12.17 million. Nichols said most of those jobs were administrative positions not essential for critical services. The bulk of the gap would be covered by $130.4 million taken up in a funding sweep. Such "sweeps" lump together unused money allocated for other programs, which in this case includes $30.2 million from this year's tax amnesty program, $4.9 million from the TOPS scholarship program, and others.
The mid-year gap came after Louisiana's income estimating panel dropped their revenue forecast last week due to lower severance taxes and mineral royalties from dropping oil prices, combined with weak growth in personal income taxes.
A more detailed breakdown, courtesy of the Associated Press.
DEFICIT WAS CLOSED WITH:
-Fund sweeps, patchwork dollars added: $131.8 million.
-Spending freeze on nonessential travel and supplies: $10.9 million.
-Elimination of vacant jobs: $12.2 million.
-Contract cuts: $6.2 million.
-Other individual cuts to agencies: $18.4 million.
-$32 million from tax amnesty program.
-$12 million from insurance settlement related to Hurricane Gustav damage.
-$15 million in unspent money from increased penalties and fees charged to uninsured motorists, approved by lawmakers earlier this year.
-$47 million in unbudgeted fees and self-generated revenue from state agencies and FEMA payments.
-$24.3 million from unspent balances in a half dozen state funds.
-$1.6 million from state property sales.
-Division of Administration, $3.1 million.
-Coastal Restoration and Protection, $947,698.
-Department of Military Affairs, $359,000.
-Department of Veterans Affairs, $240,000.
-Department of Agriculture and Forestry, $208,316.
-Department of Insurance, $232,771.
-Department of Economic Development, $2.1 million.
-Department of Transportation and Development, $8.2 million.
-Department of Corrections, $336,780.
-Office of Juvenile Justice, $2 million.
-Department of Health and Hospitals, $5.5 million.
-Department of Children and Family Services, $964,980.
-Department of Natural Resources, $714,902.
-Department of Revenue, $2.1 million.
-Department of Environmental Quality, $2.1 million.
-Louisiana Workforce Commission, $2.2 million.
-Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, $2 million.
-Department of Education, $6.3 million.
167 VACANT JOBS ELIMINATED:
-Division of Administration: 24
-Coastal Restoration and Protection: 2
-Department of Military Affairs: 5
-Louisiana Public Defender Board: 1
-Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement: 1
-Department of Agriculture and Forestry: 5
-Department of Insurance: 6
-Department of Economic Development: 1
-Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism: 7
-Department of Transportation and Development: 9
-Department of Corrections: 6
-Office of Juvenile Justice: 10
-Department of Health and Hospitals: 47
-Department of Natural Resources: 5
-Department of Environmental Quality: 10
-Louisiana Workforce Commission: 13
-Louisiana Educational Television Authority: 1
-Department of Education: 14