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Legislators Differ About Use Of Rainy Day Fund

Wallis Watkins

Governor John Bel Edwards has released his plan for cutting $304 million from this fiscal year’s budget.

The Governor has called for $119 million of that deficit to be filled with money from the Rainy Day Fund. Addressing the Louisiana Municipal Association Tuesday, he explained that money is there to help stabilize the budget. 

“It is called the Budget Stabilization Fund and it exists for this very purpose,” he said. 

The remaining $185 million will be dealt with by cuts across different departments, including $127 million within the Louisiana Department of Health, nearly $4 million from the Judiciary, and almost $6 million from the Attorney General’s office.

“I’m not asking for any new revenue, be it fees or taxes in this session," he added. 

This is the Governor’s recommendation on how to solve this deficit. The real solution will be found in the Legislature, where a special session begins Monday at the Governor’s request.

Some lawmakers, like Alexandria Representative Lance Harris, Chairman of the Louisiana House Republicans, oppose using the Rainy Day Fund.

“We’ve got to control our spending before we talk about anything else," said Harris, "or else we’re going to have to come back to the taxpayer, year in and year out.”

Another Republican, Senator Danny Martiny of Metairie, says tapping the Rainy Day Fund may be necessary.

“As much as I hate to say it," explained Martiny, "it’s raining. I’m not sure exactly who caused the rain, but that’s what the fund is there for.”

In an interview with KNOE, Democratic Representative Marcus Hunter of Monroe said using money from the Rainy Day Fund is a last resort.

“If you think about it in terms of yourself or myself, nobody wants to tap into their savings," said Hunter. 

This is the second round of cuts made to this year’s budget, which ends June 30th. In December, the budget was adjusted by $313 million in order to resolve last fiscal year's deficit.