From the Publisher: February 2017
● By Robert Frey
By: Art Suberbielle
Recent headlines called attention to Louisiana’s budget shortfall-again! The latest problem involves about a $300 million shortfall. Governor Edwards is calling a special session of the legislature to find ways to cut the budget. Now I’m just a simple man, but I can’t help but wonder how much it will cost to have a special session of the legislature. That will add to the shortage. Why couldn’t the governor make the hard decisions by himself or with staff? Didn’t we elect him to lead our state?
What’s even more troubling is that the people who are responsible for the so-called “revenue estimating” for Louisiana are doing such a poor job. The budget each year is based on the estimated revenue. So if the estimate is wrong, that is, higher than the actual amount received, then the budgeted expenditures are too high. If only the revenue estimating folks would be more realistic when they set out to establish a number, we wouldn’t be faced with this dilemma time and again.
Admittedly trying to estimate the revenue at any point in time is a difficult task. However, even I can offer a helpful suggestion or two. If only these folks would look at their past experience and see how far off they have been in the last couple of years since the economic downturn, then perhaps they would reassess their initial estimate downward. Then, once the governor’s staff and the legislature gets the number, they should take a more conservative approach to expenditures. For example, if the revenue estimate comes in at $27 billion, why not set expenditures at $26 billion? What’s wrong with planning for a budget surplus?
But, to put it all into perspective, the $300 million shortfall out of a $27 billion budget represents only a little over 1 per cent. If you or I only had 99 cents instead of a dollar, couldn’t we make ends meet? If only our elected officials would do the same, there would be no financial woes in Baton Rouge.