Edwards discusses budget crisis during unprecedented statew
John Bel Edwards (Source: LPB)TOPS payments stopped immediately due to state budget crisisTOPS payments stopped immediately due to state budget crisisPosted: Thursday, February 11 2016 5:33 PM EST2016 02 11 22:33:42 GMTAll TOPS payments were stopped immediately Thursday because of the uncertainty surrounding the state’s budget crisis. via email. "Due to the possibility of state budget cuts, all TOPS payments are being suspended immediately until further notice. More details will be provided as information becomes available," stated John W. via email. "Due to the possibility of state budget cuts, all TOPS payments are being suspended immediately until further notice. More details will be provided as information becomes available," stated John W. John Bel Edwards reinforced his proposals for fixing the budget hole while simultaneously laying out the grim future that Louisiana could face if action is not taken regarding the current shortfall. The speech comes just one day after the projected budget deficit for the current fiscal year increased to nearly $1 billion."We are in an unprecedented position," he said, while calling on the legislature to adopt his budget proposals, which includes increased revenue coupled with cuts and use of rainy day funds. "Once again, we must focus on solutions and not allow party labels and bickering to pull us apart."On Wednesday, the Revenue Estimating Conference adopted an estimate that has the deficit growing from $750 million to $870 million. As it stands, revenue would account for approximately $435 million of the shortfall. He acknowledges that he had run a campaign against tax hikes."The state deficit is now more than twice as big as anyone ever anticipated, so clearly when the facts surrounding the problem change so dramatically, so must the solutions," he said.The other $488 million would come from a combination of cuts to state government spending coupled with raids of other funds. For example, the governor has proposed using $128 million from the Rainy Day fund and $200 million in non coastal BP payments. The cuts to state government spending would amount to $160 million.Even if he gets his wish for increased revenue, he said Thursday night that higher education will need to slash around $42 million in spending.If a plan is not adopted by the legislature, universities could face even deeper cuts. Edwards said some universities could be forced to shut down while LSU main campus would run out of money after April 30."It means that you will receive a grade of incomplete. Many students will not be able to graduate and student athletes across the state at those schools will be ineligible to play next semester. That means you can say farewell to college football next fall," Edwards said.Another area that could see cuts if the budget is not fixed is healthcare. The governor was blunt on this topic as well, explaining that with larger cuts, safety net hospitals could close, starting in places like Lake Charles, Alexandria and Bogalusa."Our health care system is on the verge of imploding," he said.Following the speech, State Treasurer John Kennedy gave the Republican response, criticizing the governor on his tax proposals and calling for more cuts, including to statutory dedicated funds."We need to unlock that money and require the programs that money is paying for to compete with higher education and healthcare for appropriation," Kennedy said.He called for a variety of other cost saving measures, including cutting state consultants and working to fight Medicaid fraud."Basically what the governor is saying, he telling Louisiana families and Louisiana businesses that they need to cut their budgets so that Louisiana state government doesn have to cut its budget," he said.During his speech, Edwards objected to this criticism, attacking his predecessor in the process."Remember for eight years, we had a conservative governor with a conservative legislature. If stabilizing the budget were as easy as cutting spending and simply reducing state contracts, that work would have been done, but it hasn he said.