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|Jindal acted appropriately|
There was some good news that surfaced last week after the state Revenue Estimating Conference declared state government faced a revenue shortfall totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.
The good news was Gov. Bobby Jindal remains dead set against raising taxes to generate more monies to operate government.
According to the REC, the state's general fund budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year is running a $319 million deficit. Coupled with almost $48 million in supplemental needs for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, the state's overall deficit totals almost $376 million. The current fiscal year (2009-2010) ends June 30.
Since state government is bound constitutionally to operate a balanced budget, Jindal had no choice but to act to make ends meet before the current fiscal year concludes.
Accordingly, Jindal announced late last week that he would employ a number of measures to offset deficit spending including what could be described as some fancy accounting tricks. However, we are not going to split hairs with the governor over his decisions to balance the state's books as long as he steers clear of embracing any movement to raise taxes on the backs of Louisiana's people and businesses.
Meanwhile, the REC also declared that Jindal's proposed budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year would post a roughly $400 million deficit in light of a revised revenue projection for the new fiscal year. The 2010-2011 fiscal year begins July 1.
Some $244.7 million of the $400 million projected deficit would arise in the state's general fund. The remaining projected deficitósome $154.5 millionówould surface from an ongoing flap over what the state believes the federal government owes it for caring for Medicare and Medicaid patients.
Earlier this year, Jindal ordered some $248 million in mid-year budget cuts in light of lackluster income and sales tax collections. The health care and higher education communities absorbed the bulk of those mid-year cuts.
That was not the case in Jindal's plan to finish out the current fiscal year. That also was not in the mix in Jindal's plan to shore up a projected deficit for the new fiscal year.
To surmise, Jindal spared high education and health care in mapping out the state's spending plan through June 30, 2011.
It is worth noting that Louisiana faces budgetary problems because income and sales tax collections are fairing badly. Severance taxes collected from the oil and gas industry are not doing well either. They all are fairing badly because the state's economy is not performing as it has in the past, though Louisiana is outshining most states on the economic front.
The bottom line is this: Jindal acted appropriately by refusing to go along with any tax hikes to balance the state budget.
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