Dardenne: Louisiana's budget deficit from last year is 'inevitable'

Dardenne: Louisiana's budget deficit from last year is 'inevitable'

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne said it's "inevitable" that Louisiana is going to have to deal with a deficit left over from the previous fiscal year.

Speaking before the Baton Rouge Press Club, Dardenne told reporters it is unclear at this time what the amount of that shortfall will be. Tax numbers from the fiscal year that ended in June will not be finalized for a few more weeks.

This past spring, an economist warned there could be up to a $200 million shortfall due to lower-than-anticipated corporate and business tax returns.

The governor has indicated that the state may need to take out a short-term loan. Meanwhile, Dardenne said he has told agency heads to brace for impact ahead of time.

"We're concerned that you will see this deficit and rather than have to deal with it in a six-month time period or a shorter time period, be cognizant throughout the entire year and plan your budgets accordingly," Dardenne said.

Meanwhile, Dardenne and other leaders are continuing their negotiations with the partnership hospitals that help care for the uninsured in attempts to rein in spending. Dardenne indicated Monday that creating an emergency room in north Baton Rouge could be part of those negotiations.

Dardenne said expect an announcement about new agreements in coming weeks.

"I think we're going to have good success with those partners in addressing some of these changes in trying to stem the growth of state dollars as we go forward," Dardenne said.

While the state's financial futures are unclear, Dardenne said do not expect clarity any time soon.

Recently, the administration expanded Medicaid in Louisiana under Obamacare, saving the state hundreds of millions of dollars. However, the future of that program is in question with the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump calling for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

"I think that's a big uncertainly that will effect federal dollars particularly as it relates to Medicaid," Dardenne said.

With just days until college students return to university campuses across the state, Dardenne also provided a reminder about the future of TOPS.

The program is funded at 70 percent next year. As it stands, the scholarship will cover approximately 93 percent of tuition in the fall at 47 percent in the spring.

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