There’s only two months left in the fiscal year, and doubts are growing as to whether a spending plan for next budget year can be approved in the current regular session. A 648-million dollar budget gap is forcing lawmakers to consider deep cuts in state spending. LaPolitics.com Publisher Jeremy Alford says we’re approaching uncharted waters.
Alford says, "The legislature has one main charge during the regular session; that's to pass budgets. The House has passed a budget; the Senate is now saying that they may just wait until the special session."
Lawmakers are constitutionally barred from raising revenue in this regular session to plug the budget gap, and Alford says that means the safe money is on a special session starting up next month, where revenue issues can be considered.
Alford says, "The expectation right now is that the governor will call for a special session sometime between mid and late May. It would be a very truncated special session."
The House passed budget includes massive cuts to healthcare, which administrators warn would lead to the end of public-private partnership hospitals. Alford says voters won’t accept those kinds of cuts, so revenues will have to be raised to replace the one penny sales tax that is set to expire in July.
Alford says, "I don't think the legislature has any way out of this situation without replacing some of that expiring revenue either with significant cuts, tax increases, or tax renewals."