La. budget deficit doubles overnight, Gov. Edwards pressures state legislators

New $75 million budget hole

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - According to officials with the Louisiana Governor's Office, Louisiana's midyear budget deficit more than doubled overnight, and Governor John Bel Edwards held a news conference to discuss.

Richard Carbo confirms that when lawmakers left the Capitol on Thursday evening, only $67 million needed to be filled with new taxes or cuts. He also confirms that House Bill 54 by Representative Chris Broadwater (R) Hammond will not bring in revenue in time to help the current budget. HB 54 was supposed to generate $75 million this year by requiring advance sales tax payments from retailers.

So, instead of the $67 million hole, there is a $142 million hole that must be filled before the special session ends on Wednesday.

In a press conference late Friday morning, Governor Edwards said that the Louisiana legislature "failed to produce a plan that comes anywhere close" to solving the widened budged deficit. He re-enforced the idea that his proposed alcohol tax would not cause a major increase in costs to consumers, saying the tax would equate to "three quarters of a penny on a can of beer."

The governor also put pressure on state legislators, saying nobody is coming up with proposals they are willing to stand by and endorse outside of Edwards' plan.

LSU President F. King Alexander says while he is happy that the budget shortfall was lessened, state legislators have "a long way to go" in preserving higher education in Louisiana.

"While 40 percent of the problem has been permanently resolved through budget cuts," says Alexander. "The other 60 percent will have to be fixed through a combination of revenues and more cuts – with only five days left in special session." The LSU president warns if the budget problems are not fixed, LSU's education, research, and outreach missions will be harmed.

The Special Legislative Session will end on Wednesday, March 9.

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