Louisiana Budget Deficit Continues To Grow
It's like watching a sand castle crumble back into the ocean with every wave that washes in. That's how you could describe Louisiana's budget and the attempts to close the deficit in that budget. Just when you think the state has done as much as it can to close the gap between what we owe and what we spend, another wave comes in and the gap widens.
If we're being honest it's not all the politician's fault this time. There were some things that were beyond government officials' control over the past few months.
The cost of healthcare is continuing to grow and threatening to swallow other parts of the budget. We’ve been hit by a couple of natural disasters that have affected the bottom line, corporate profits are down.
That's the analysis of Pearson Cross. Dr. Cross is a Political Science Professor with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. His comments were reported by the Louisiana Radio Network.
Those increased healthcare costs and the money needed to aid citizens after the unprecedented flooding of 2016 have really slowed down any progress the state was making toward closing the budget gap. Jay Dardenne, the state's Commissioner of Administration, is already asking state agencies to tighten budgets even more.
It looks like the biggest losers in this next round of belt-tightening will be the state's education system and our healthcare system. It probably won't be until the oil and gas industry starts to rally again that these agencies and systems will feel any relief.
So mineral taxes and sales taxes to the state constitute a significant proportion of our stable budget and those are down.
The Governor could use the state's rainy day fund as an offset for some of the shortfall but that decision has yet to be made. Meanwhile, the Governor has established a panel that will look into ways our state's budget could be stabilized. In other words, find a way to stop building our sand castle so close to the edge of the sea.