Budget

Louisiana Governor Signs $30B Budget; Touts Teacher Raises

Jun 19, 2019
ULM/Office of Marketing and Communications / https://www.ulm.edu/news/2019/spring-commencement-2019.html

Saying "a great education cures a lot of ills," Gov. John Bel Edwards on Tuesday signed Louisiana's $30 billion operating budget at a Baton Rouge elementary school where he hailed the first statewide public school teacher raise in a decade.

The 2019-20 budget starting July 1 contains increases for public elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, early learning programs, health care services and public safety programs.

Lawmakers will put the finishing touches on Louisiana's more than $30 billion budget for next year in the final hours of their legislative session. The 60-day session must end by 6 p.m. Thursday. 

The House and Senate were working through disagreements over small sums. But plans to boost spending on colleges, health services, foster care, senior centers and public safety programs were expected to remain intact.

Republicans bristling about the rising price tag of Louisiana's Medicaid program on Tuesday questioned whether the state health department was doing enough to respond to audits that found waste or misspending.

GOP lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee grilled health department officials during a budget hearing. They asked about audits from Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera's office that documented money spent on ineligible services and that suggested millions could have been spent on people who earned too much to receive the government-financed health insurance.

Lawmakers in the Louisiana House are opening their budget hearings amid a new round of partisan financial disputes.

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and House Republican leaders are arguing over how much money Louisiana is collecting in taxes and whether to spend it all.

Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras has blocked economists' recommendations to increase the state income forecast and make more money available for next year's budget.

Edwards proposed a 2019-20 spending plan that assumes the money eventually will be recognized.

Gov. John Bel Edwards' plans to steer more money to sheriffs and open more dorms in a new juvenile prison stalled Tuesday when the House budget committee chairman blocked the income forecast changes needed to pay for the spending.

The latest financial dispute between House Republican leaders and the Democratic governor, which erupted in a meeting of the Revenue Estimating Conference, also creates new wrinkles for Edwards' efforts to raise teacher pay next year.

gov.louisiana.gov

Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, members of the legislature, my fellow Louisianans:

Good afternoon.

Today, I’m going to be brief.  The time for politics and partisanship is over.  The time for solutions is now.  No more excuses.  The citizens of this state have waited long enough.  They deserve results – now. 

I’m not going to bog you down with the numbers and figures that have been in front of us for more than two years. We don’t need to rehash the tale of how we got here – we all know that by now.

Emerald McIntyre / ULM Photo Services

Higher Education in Louisiana is about to get pushed off the fiscal cliff. The state will enact severe budget cuts to the T.O.P.S. program and university budgets unless there is a deal to raise more revenue or realocate funds to higher education. 

T.O.P.S. eligible students would only receive 70% funding for tuition. Students at the University of Louisiana Monroe could see a $1,736 out of pocket cost increase  per year to make up for the 30% cut in T.O.P.S.

Wayne Hsieh / Flickr.com / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

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.

 

Road Travel America / Flickr.com / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The chairman of Senate Finance has no desire to approve the budget the House passed last Thursday. Ville Platte Senator Eric LaFleur says he can’t support a spending plan that would kick 46-thousand elderly and disabled people from nursing homes.

 

LaFleur says, "I will never vote for this budget. I will not allow for a thousand people to be thrown out into the streets. I'd be embarrassed, and I'm not even running again for office."

bluepoint951 / Flickr.com / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Governor John Bel Edwards says the proposed budget that was approved by the House is a non-starter, and if it reaches his desk, he’s not signing it. The budget maintains higher ed, and funds TOPS at 80 percent, but includes steep cuts to healthcare that could shutter public-private hospitals that care for the poor. Edwards says it’s a budget unworthy of the people of Louisiana

 

Edwards says, "The types of cuts that I just described to you do not happen in the state of Louisiana.The state is better than this. They deserve better than this."

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