Legislative committee certifies budget numbers

Legislators will decide in the upcoming session how to spend a $113 million state government surplus from the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012.

Barry Dussé, state director of planning and budget for the Jindal administration, went before the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget on Friday with the certified numbers.

For the last fiscal year, the state collected $8.3 billion in revenue and spent $8.2 billion.

State government uses taxes, fees, mineral royalties and federal dollars to fund public services such as hospitals and colleges.

The books are closed at the end of the fiscal year. Accountants crunch the numbers and publish them in the comprehensive annual financial report.

The glossy booklet, with pictures of the State Capitol, a movie set, a farmer, soldiers and a construction crew, shows median household income in Louisiana continues to be below the national average.

However, Louisiana’s unemployment rate, which averaged 7.3 percent in 2011, was lower than the national average of 8.9 percent.

Legislators quietly accepted the surplus figure and continued to other business without asking any questions.

Gov. Bobby Jindal wants to use the bulk of the surplus for a health care budget hole. Some legislators argue it should be deposited into the “rainy day” fund, which acts as a savings account for state government.

The Jindal administration expected the surplus to reach $143 million. The final numbers lowered the amount.