Jindal administration announces plans to balance budget

Jindal administration announces plans to balance budget

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Gov. Bobby Jindal's team told lawmakers Friday morning just exactly how it plans to plug a $170 million hole in Louisiana's budget.

Kristy Nichols, the commissioner of administration, told the group no state worker would be laid off, but officials are looking to cut 167 positions that are currently vacant. Nichols said the move, combined with cutting costs in the state agencies, should be enough to fill the gap.

"I think it's a fair and balanced plan," said Nichols. "The bottom line is we protected higher ed, we protected healthcare, there are no layoffs and so, we're managing within our means and softening the blow."

Jindal plans to use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state budget deficit. The money combined with $50 million in state agency cuts will rebalance the $25 billion budget, under the plan.

"I was very relieved to know that state workers are not going to be negatively impacted by these reductions and that we are not going to be laying off people," said state Sen. Sharon Weston Broome, D-Baton Rouge.

The deficit was tied to slumping severance tax and mineral royalties from dropping oil prices, combined with weak growth in personal income taxes.

State Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge questioned just how much "fat" was lying around.

"How fat were we?" Claitor questioned.

"We're working in that direction to reduce spending," he added.

Look for updates throughout the day that give more specifics of the plan and hear reaction to the proposed cuts.

Copyright 2014 WAFB. All rights reserved. Melinda Deslatte with The Associated Press contributed to this report.