BATON ROUGE (WGNO) – Governor John Bel Edwards said his budget proposal for the 2018 fiscal year leaves many state services unfunded, for now.
In a statement released today, Edwards said he has stayed true to his commitment to avoid depending on one-time money for recurring expenses.
Decrying “gimmicks of the past” that were used to “hide the state’s financial problems,” Edwards said his proposed budget should serve as a starting point for the legislature and is not a finalized proposal.
“For the second year in a row, my budget plan contains no one-time money to pay for recurring expenses and no fund sweeps,” Edwards said. “The budget I am submitting only spends money the state is projected to have for the next fiscal year, meaning that many state services that I, and the people of Louisiana, consider to be important are not yet funded. Our work during the next special session will be critical as we structurally reform the state’s budgeting practices. In doing that, we will ensure that our state brings in a sufficient amount of revenue to fund our priorities and put Louisiana on a path to prosperity.”
Edwards said he plans to submit a plan to the legislature to fund a list of priority expenditures, including fully funding the TOPS program.
“My goal is to fully fund critical priorities of our state, most notably the TOPS program and transportation, but we cannot do that without making reforms and without additional revenue,” Edwards said. “This is a critical moment for our state, but I am confident that we can make the changes we need to so the priorities I have identified can be funded for the people of our state.”
In addition to the TOPS shortfall, the Department of Transportation and Development is projecting a $43.2 million state match shortfall for infrastructure projects and continues to have $13.1 billion backlog, according to Edwards.
The shortfall, when combined with federal match, totals $216 million, and could fund 546 miles of highway overlay, 360 replacements of 120-foot bridges, or 107 replacements of 300-foot bridges.