Economist: Louisiana could be facing an additional $200 million deficit

Economist: Louisiana could be facing an additional $200 million deficit

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana could be facing a $200 million deficit for the current fiscal year, according to new estimates from one of the state's top economists.

LSU economist Jim Richardson said corporate income and franchise taxes are coming in lower than expected for the fiscal year ending June 30.

"From the revenue side, we're not going to get quite as much money as we thought we were going to get," said Richardson, who serves as an independent economist for the state and serves on the Revenue Estimating Conference.

Richardson's projections are merely estimates. The tax collections will not be finalized until September.

If the estimates hold true, the deficit would have to be paid off during the next fiscal year, when the state is already wrestling a projected $600 million shortfall that could leave TOPS scholarships and the partnership hospitals that treat the uninsured with deep cuts.

The news comes as state lawmakers have less than a week left in the second special session focused on raising revenue. So far the House has passed bills that would generate just over $200 million next year. That is only about a third of the governor's goal.

"I am a little frustrated. I don't want to stand up here and act otherwise. We should be much further along today then where we are," said Gov. John Bel Edwards during a press conference Friday. "Almost all of the revenue that has come out of the House thus far really just gets us back to where we were. We haven't raised any additional dollars for these priorities in a real sense."

However, while the governor is calling for lawmakers to take action on various tax measures, some House Republicans appear to not be listening.

"I just don't think there's much of an appetite for any more. I'm surprised that we got as much as we did," said Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington.

Schroder is just one of several Republicans in the House that are stalling some tax measures. Several bills are waiting down the pipeline of the House, including one bill modifying the individual income tax and another reducing tax credits for big corporations.

Despite the newly projected deficit, Schroder said he would rather hold off and vote for a comprehensive reform package in a future session.

"If we start plucking off individual pieces of this, then the things that really need to get fixed are not going to be fixed," Schroder said.

However, the governor said there is no time to wait. During the press conference, he indicated that the next few days may be the only chance lawmakers get to prevent cuts.

"I can't envision a third special session in order to address what we know today," Edwards said.

Lawmakers return to the Capitol on Sunday.

Copyright 2016 WAFB. All rights reserved.