Governor Edwards to release budget proposal to La. lawmakers Friday
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration was set Friday to unveil a multibillion-dollar Louisiana budget proposal that would steer new dollars into education programs, using money that isn’t yet available to spend under the law.
The Democratic governor’s spending recommendations for the 2020-21 financial year beginning July 1 will be released in a presentation to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget by Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, the governor’s chief financial adviser.
Release of the Edwards proposal kicks off months of budget negotiations stretching across the regular legislative session that begins March 9. Lawmakers in the majority-Republican House and Senate likely won’t finish crafting next year’s spending plan until near the session’s end in June.
As he campaigned for his second term in office, Edwards focused heavily on plans to seek increased spending on early childhood education, K-12 public schools, teacher pay raises and higher education programs. Exactly which proposals made the cut weren’t yet clear ahead of Friday’s presentation.
Edwards’ recommendation is a wish list of sorts. To give him $103 million more to include in the spending proposal, the governor used income projections that aren’t included in Louisiana’s official revenue forecast because the Legislature’s new Republican leaders wouldn’t adopt them.
House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Senate President Page Cortez refused to support the income projections recommended by nonpartisan economists, which the Edwards administration backed. The legislative leaders instead wanted only a tiny increase for next year’s forecast. The disagreement stalled forecast changes.
Amid forecasting bickering last year, Edwards employed a similar method to his budget proposal in 2019.
Beyond the $103 million, the governor’s recommendations also would spend $25 million that Republican state Treasurer John Schroder has said he won’t transfer for general operating expenses. That dispute is expected to wind up in court.
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