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Where Does All the Money Go?

Have you ever tried to figure out where your money went, when you have too much month left at the end of your money? Tracking down the cup of coffee here; a loaf of bread there – plus $20 in unplanned groceries – shows how it slips away. That’s what the state legislature and administration are trying to figure out, though the hole ahead is $750-million deep.

Some say, “It’s easy. Just cut state contracts.” Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says that’s no simple task.

“We have 15-thousand contracts right now,” Dardenne told the Joint Legislative Budget Committee late last week. “If you spent just one minute reviewing every contract, it would take you 251 hours. And you could do that in 10-and-a-half days -- if you didn’t eat or sleep or do anything else.”

Despite the magnitude of the task, Dardenne says the administration is reviewing those contracts. He demonstrated the spreadsheet containing the particulars of each  contract, which will be shared with lawmakers and the public.

“That identifies the department, and the type of contract; the amount; what’s self-generated, what’s stat ded, what’s state general fund, what’s federal.,” Dardenne said as he pointed to each individual column. “As well as kind of categorizing the possible savings that could be realized if we cancelled the contract; if we reduced the contract. And what costs may be realized if we didn’t do it on a contract basis, but tried to do it internally.”

Since reviewing contracts is such a massive undertaking, what about the other option that’s been touted -- cutting back on tax credits? Also not simple, but today, the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs committee begins analyzing them.

“We will review all the credits, exemptions and rebates in the state,” committee chair J.P. Morell said, before explaining how it’s going to work.

“We’re going to call groups in, in groups of 10 or 20, make them present their data, and defend their exemptions.”

Sales tax exemptions for  the purchase of antique airplanes, investments in gold coins, and for krewe purchases of Mardi Gras beads are among today’s topics.