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Governor, Candidates Knot Up Over Shortfall Fix Plan

S. Lincoln

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee meets this morning to vote on the Jindal administration plan to solve the current budget shortfall. That’s got David Vitter’s and John Bel Edwards’ knickers in a knot.

Vitter says it solves nothing, describing the administration’s plan as, “More patching, more moving money around, more depending on very speculative money; and for us to be sweeping that to solve our problems now, I think is irresponsible.”

Edwards agrees.

“What he’s doing today is a disaster for our state,” the Democrat says of Jindal’s proposal.

The Jindal administration actually has 30 days to fix the shortfall, and both Edwards and Vitter question the rush to take this action before Saturday’s election results are in.

“That is undisciplined, irresponsible governing,” Edwards says.

“I would urge the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget to reject this plan,” Vitter states.

Edwards points in particular to Jindal’s planned sweep of $49-million from DOTD’s already underfunded budget for roadwork.

“He’s calling it an ‘excess balance’. There is no excess balance when you have a 12-billion-dollar backlog,” Edwards declares.

Vitter says he doesn’t have an alternative solution in mind -- yet.

“We’re looking at all sorts of options. But we don’t have adequate information to present a detailed plan,” the Republican explains.

Instead, he’s asking Governor Jindal to wait until after the election, and then, if Vitter wins, put Vitter’s man in charge as a “transitional” Commissioner of Administration.

“I would want that transitional Commissioner of Administration to take office immediately next week,” Vitter said, adding that he has tapped Bill Fenstermaker of Lafayette as the man for the job.

In the meantime, Jindal issued a statement, criticizing the contenders to be his successor

“It’s easy to be a critic, but critics are not leaders,” the statement reads. “Both candidates have been light on details and should outline their solutions in more detail."

Vitter told the press he would not be attending today’s Joint Budget committee meeting, as he has previously scheduled campaign events. But John Bel Edwards has plans to be there, and hold a press conference afterward.