State to run out of money by spring
BATON ROUGE - Health care and higher education could be broke by spring if money isn't raised for state services. There's a $227 million shortfall for Medicaid and the college tuition program, TOPS, according to Jan Moller with the Louisiana Budget Project.
"This is an extremely serious situation," said Moller. "The state just doesn't have enough money to pay for all its obligations through the end of the fiscal year."
Moller is advising the transition of Governor-Elect John Bel Edwards who takes office in January. He said it's up to Edwards to make a plan to fill the latest budget hole, that plan has yet to be presented.
Edwards has said he will raise money by cutting tax credits and giveaways. He's also said he opposes raising income or sales taxes.
Monday his chief financial advisor Jay Dardenne said the solutions will not be easy. "It's going to be a combination of reducing the size of government and figuring out what our priorities are," said Dardenne.
Dardenne said the state's financial problems stem from years of structural deficiencies that were exasperated by Governor Jindal's practice of using one-time money to pay for recurring state services.
Jindal defended his record Monday at the Baton Rouge Press Club. He said he always found a way to fund the TOPS program and he blames a heavy-handed federal government for making Medicaid too expensive.