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Special Session "Basically Inevitable"

Sue Lincoln

Do I have any good news here I can give you?” Legislative Fiscal Analyst Greg Albrecht asked the Revenue Estimating Conference Friday.

I am even more pessimistic than Greg,” said the Division of Administration's fiscal analyst, Manfred Dix, “So I don’t think the honorable panel wants to hear much what I have to say.”

Both knew the numbers they were giving weren’t what members of the budget forecasting panel wanted to hear.

My proposal is to reduce State General Fund by about $500-million, compared to the $340-million of LFO,” Dix said.

In the end, the REC took the smaller number which, with required adjustments, leaves another $313-million dollar hole to fill.

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne had quite a bit to say.

We’ve already addressed a $313-million shortfall with that first deficit – which ate up a good bit of the money we had been asking agencies to hold in reserve, in anticipation of this deficit that we knew had been coming since the fiscal year began.”

And he effectively told lawmakers that since they made this problem, they will be called on to come back and fix it.

Because of the size of the deficit that we’re facing, I think it’s basically inevitable that we’re going to be in a special session.”

House Speaker Taylor Barras isn’t a fan of the special session plan. He has said he believes the gap can be closed within the limits of the governor’s and the joint budget committee’s constitutional authority to cut spending by up to 5-percent.

Our economy is suffering now, and we have to make the adjustments in state government, as a result,” Barras commented, after REC adjourned.

However, some budget items cannot be touched at all, so five percent works out to less than $250-million. Hence, special session “inevitable”.