‘We’re going to have to set real priorities as a state.” That statement might be considered stern, even a bit bold, if it wasn’t Gov. Bobby Jindal’s fifth year of saying something like that, during years in which he was supposed to have been setting real priorities, and yet in which there is another in the series of recurring budget crises that have been a hallmark of Louisiana’s recent fiscal management.
Déjà vu, all over again, y’all.
A new estimate that the state must cope with a $211 million revenue shortfall within the next few weeks because of unexpected drops in tax revenues is only the latest in an administration — in office since January 2008 — that must be nearing some kind of a record for most emergency budget cuts.
Of course, unacknowledged by Jindal and many other politicos in the State Capitol is that much of the problem is self-inflicted. In 2008 and later years, Jindal prioritized tax cuts and business tax breaks that have sharply eroded the state’s revenues.
Those tax cuts and business breaks have been good for the governor’s politics, as well as for many legislators’ politics. Priorities, indeed. But the fact is, once the tax base was weakened, a soft economy was bound to hurt, and badly.
The new and lower revenue estimates also hit in the new fiscal year, beginning July 1. That’s the budget that lawmakers are working on now in the Capitol: It would require about $300 million in additional cuts, based on the lower revenue estimates. And that’s not counting millions, maybe $100 million or more, in cuts that may be required in Jindal’s fiscal year 2013 budget proposal; the governor based his budget on passage of new laws, including asset sales, that might not be agreed to by legislators.
Man, we’re going to have to set real priorities as a state.
Or something like that.
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved