BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Gov. John Bel Edwards plans to make an historic address Thursday evening to the people of Louisiana that will focus on the budget crisis facing the state.
The governor's address will include the latest figures which show the state is in worse shape than previously thought.
Jim Engster, a political analyst and host of the Jim Engster Radio Show, said Edwards' address is unusual but the problem is one the state has seen before.
"Governor Roemer had a similar situation," he said. "He had a $2 billion projected deficit and oil prices had plummeted to $12 a barrel, but oil prices eventually went up over time and the budget got better and he made a combination of cuts and some tax increases and things worked out."
Engster said then Governor Buddy Roemer inherited a mess of a state budget and also took his case to the people, although not directly through television.
"I think that governors quite often when they're facing a budget situation they'll call it a crisis, Engster said. "They'll talk about removing a patient from a dialysis machine in hopes that will make an impression on the electorate and on lawmakers. Well, this time I don't think it's an exaggeration. There really is a fiscal crisis and there's a question. Lawmakers don't have good choices and neither does the governor, either they have to raise taxes or cut programs or do both."
The address will air statewide at 6:30 p.m. and can be seen on WAFB.
"The challenges facing Louisiana are so severe, and the risk of doing nothing is so big, that it is important for me to outline these problems directly to the people," Edwards said in a written release. "I promised to be open and transparent with the people of Louisiana and give them the facts, and that's what I intend to do. There are some real consequences if we do not work together to solve the state's financial problems and I want to personally communicate them to the citizens of our state."
The current budget shortfall, which must be filled by June 30, is an estimated $870 million.
The governor has called a special session. It begins Sunday and is scheduled to last three weeks.