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|Anders, Riser say special session possible on budget shortfall|
Rep. Andy Anders of Clayton and Sen. Neil Riser of Columbia agree that it is highly possible the Legislature will convene a special session early next year to address a projected revenue shortfall due to declining oil prices.
"I'm just speculating," said Anders, who met with Gov. Bobby Jindal in Baton Rouge Tuesday. "The governor has the authority to cut the budget by three percent. He said that the three percent cut will be in an even matter."
Jindal announced earlier this week that the Revenue Estimating Conference adopted a $341 million revenue shortfall for the current-year state budget and revised its revenue estimate for fiscal year 2010 showing a $2 billion shortfall.
To make ends meet, Jindal said "we will have to reduce government spending to a level we can afford" and that raising taxes is not an option.
"This is serious business," said Riser. "I think it's a good possibility we might see a special session by February. But I think the governor is handling the situation well. We have to live within our means. That's what we expect from our citizens and the government must do the same."
"Our primary budget was based on a price of $83 per barrel of oil," said Riser. "Every dollar above that amount is a surplus, but every dollar below is a deficit."
He said every dollar above or below the forecast represents $12.5 million.
"Our citizens have been struggling with high fuel costs and other issues," said Riser. "We hope that education and health care will not be touched."
"Right now the revenue committee is looking at the figures," said Anders. "We don't really know just what's going to happen yet."
Jindal said the REC's projections "reaffirm our current course of action to work proactively towards long term solutions in our budget that will help us this year and next year. DOA Commissioner Angele Davis has already been working with officials at every agency and heads of government throughout the state to examine their spending and identify ways to reduce expenditures by making programmatic changes to make government live within its means.
Jindal said he is looking "to reduce expenditures in every area of government – not only in the discretionary general fund, but non-discretionary spending and statutory dedications also. Everything is on the table.
"We know we are not immune to the national economic downturn, even while we continue to outperform the nation's economy in many areas, and we will continue to move Louisiana forward while staying within our means and spending less money."
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