More than $600 million in budget cuts - including all the reductions made by Gov. Kathleen Blanco before a special legislative session - were approved overwhelmingly Tuesday by the state House of Representatives.
The spending cuts would combine with the use of money from the state's "rainy day" fund and other measures to rework spending and rebalance the more than $18 billion budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. The budget has a nearly $1 billion shortfall in state tax income after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and Louisiana is required to maintain a balanced budget.
To cope with the spending slashing, Louisiana's public colleges said they expect to have to lay off faculty and staff. The state health department will pay nursing homes, hospitals and doctors less money for providing care to the poor in the state's Medicaid program.
To fill the rest of the gap in the budget, the entire Legislature has agreed to tap $154 million from the state's "rainy day" fund. Lawmakers also are being asked by the Blanco administration to approve a series of complex accounting moves that would free up $188 million to plug into the shortfall.
According to the Times Picayune, "Blanco's blueprint overcomes opposition."
A mention of the aforementioned "series of complex accounting moves" is "through an accounting maneuver that would steer $188 million in 2004-05 surplus dollars into the general fund."
Blageurette would like to understand the complexity of using money that is left over (surplus) from a previous fiscal period. The amount of surplus funds is 1/5 of our deficit . . . why would it take two hurricanes to go after using this money? Okay, I'm confused again . . . I thought I understood basic bookkeeping!