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How Jindal Will Confront Budget Shortfall

Wallis Watkins

Governor Jindal is back in Louisiana after announcing the end of his presidential campaign on Tuesday. He addressed the press Wednesday at the Governor’s Mansion. 

Asked if he thought the budgetary problems facing Louisiana negatively impacted his campaign, Jindal said, "I think the fact that we stood strong in our desire to cut spending and grow the Louisiana economy was actually a selling point, a strong point, for many people to choose to support us." 

Jindal now has to sell the Legislature on yet another round of mid-year budget cuts. Earlier this week, the Revenue Estimating Conference determined current state revenues are short by $370 million. The administration must present a plan to the Joint Budget Committee Friday. 

"We will balance the budget," he says, "just like we’ve done before. We’re not going to leave this problem for the next Governor. We’ll do that by being more efficient, we’ll be doing that without raising taxes." 

Here’s what they’re planning: cutting funds from state agencies by $150 million, and sweeping more than $300 million from all state agencies, except higher education. In addition, they’re tapping the Rainy Day Fund for another $28 million, which will have to be approved by two thirds of the Legislature.  

If it seems like that adds up to more than $370 million, you’re right. That’s because they also have to balance the books for the last fiscal year, when the state overspent by $117 million.

"I think the fact that we’ve held the line and said we’re going to reduce the size of government and rather grow the private sector economy, the real world economy, is a good thing," Jindal reiterated.

Regarding the other big issue here in Louisiana - Saturday’s election - Jindal kept quiet, saying he plans to keep out of the race and will not endorse a candidate.

With six weeks left in his final term, Jindal remains optimistic, despite facing a seventh round of mid year budget cuts in eight years. "I think that I’ll be leaving our state better off than we were eight years ago," he says.