Governor John Bel Edwards testified before the House Appropriations Committee today to present the updated executive budget for Fiscal Year 2016-2017.
Following the special legislative session, the budget deficit for the next fiscal year dropped from more than $2 billion to roughly $750 million. Gov. Edwards and Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne outlined the proposed cuts to the committee.
“This is not the budget I want to present to the people of Louisiana, and it is not the budget I want to see implemented,” said Gov. Edwards. “This budget represents our best effort to fund the priorities that the vast majority of the people of our state consider to be important. I have gone line by line in this budget to make efficiencies, find savings, and fund the critical programs we need. A second special session will be needed soon to close the remaining shortfall, and I am hopeful that the legislature will work with me to eliminate this shortfall.”
Unlike budget proposals from previous administrations, Gov. Edwards’ latest budget plan does not use one-time funds, which was cited as a cause in two recent credit rating downgrades, does not raid the transportation trust fund, and does not contain any fund sweeps. In addition, the updated proposal fully funds the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Military Affairs, while also doubling funding for the port priority project.
On Jan. 12, Gov. Edwards signed an executive order expanding the Medicaid program in the state of Louisiana. In the first year alone, Medicaid Expansion will save the State of Louisiana $184 million, funds that will be used to keep safety-net hospitals open and provide some additional funding for the TOPS program.
“Louisianans are already paying for Medicaid Expansion, but for years, we’ve sent our federal tax dollars to other states to fund healthcare for their working citizens,” Gov. Edwards continued. “More importantly, we can use these savings from expansion to restore funds to critical programs here in Louisiana. As we move forward with expansion, Louisiana will begin to see savings that we have spent years denying.”