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Story Archives: Legislators agree state cuts needed
|Legislators agree state cuts needed|
Franklin Parish legislators are standing solidly behind Gov. Bobby Jindal's position on a State budget shortfall for current year and that cuts will have to be made.
"For this year, I think that's what's necessary," said Rep. Noble Ellington of the Governor's statement earlier this week on the budget crisis. "It's next year that worries me," he added.
Gov. Jindal called for reductions in "every area" following a meeting of the Revenue Estimating Conference which projected a $341 million shortfall for this year and and $2 billion shortfall for 2010.
"Maybe it's time we (state offices) all lived within our means," said Sen. Neil Riser of the crisis. "We've all seen it coming," he added.
For Riser, the larger concern is the greater affect of budget cuts on rural areas versus urban areas.
"It's just not fair for us to have to pay just as much through budget cuts when we don't get nearly the benefits of larger cities." he said.
He sees opportunity in the crisis to make the state more self sustaining in the future.
"We're an oil based economy and what this shows is that we should become more diverse," in the way the state produces income.
For Ellington, the $2 billion shortfall for next year is the greatest challenge.
"The Governor has said he won't raise taxes or use the Rainy Day Fund, and I'm with him as far as this year is concerned," he said.
"We'll start working on that (the 2010 budget) right after the first of the year.
There are some surplus funds and you would think we could jump right in and use them," he added and pointed out the use of surplus funds is tightly restricted by law.
"Why have a Rainy Day Fund, if it's not to be used," Ellington questioned.
Gov. Jindal's statement on the funding forecast included:
"The REC's forecast is certainly serious but not suprising. Like I said last week, we knew that REC would most likely be worsening our deficit projections for the year and nex year--that is why we have been working proactively to examine every function of government, and to be prepared to make reductions in every area.
"Just like in families and small businesses, state government has to live within its means. That means we will have to reduce government spending to a level we can afford. Raising taxes is not an option, and would be the worst thing we could do in an economic downturn...so we will make government work more efficiently and we will do our jobs while spending less money.
"The REC's projections today reaffirm our current course of action to work proactively towards long term solutions in our budget that will help us this year and next year....
"We are not considering use of the Rainy Day Fund to address the deficit this year, as it will not help us with the deficit next year. We are looking to reduce expenditures in every area of government--not only in the discretionary general fund, but non-discretionary spending and statutory dedications also. Everything is on the table..."
Both Ellington and Riser said they expected to be spending time in Baton Rouge this week engaged in funding discussions.