Are you keeping your New Year's resolutions?|
Story Archives: Last minute wrangling restores some cuts
|Last minute wrangling restores some cuts|
The 2009 regular session of the state Legislature closed last Thursday, but not without some last minute fireworks.
It took lawmakers until thirty minutes before the close of the session to hammer out a compromise on the state's $28 billion budget for the next fiscal year.
State Rep. Noble Ellington said he was pleased with the overall results of the session, adding that lawmakers worked hard to ensure local projects would have the state funding they needed to continue.
"All of the towns in my district got anywhere from $20,000 $25,000," said Ellington, D-Winnsboro. "The Franklin Council on Aging got $50,000."
Funding for a host of area projects fell into jeopardy when Gov. Bobby Jindal followed through on a threat to veto any money contained in the state's budget that was contingent on the passage of other bills.
Since the possibility existed that the money would not be there, Jindal vetoed those projects. However, he informed the Legislature he would give them time to come back with new legislation to fund the projects on existing money.
Lawmakers amended a bill in the House of Representatives to restore most of the governor's vetoes.
Ellington said the move was necessary and keeps the state on good fiscal footing.
"Pretty much whatever was vetoed in the budget was put back in with that second bill," Ellington said.
Some of the projects receiving funding under the compromise in Franklin Parish are:
$50,000 for the Franklin Council on Aging
$50,000 for the Winnsboro Main Street
$25,000 for the Town of Winnsboro
$60,000 divided between the towns of Gilbert, Wisner and Baskin
$15,000 for the Princess Theatre in Winnsboro.
State Sen. Neil Riser also commended colleagues in the Legislature for their work this session.
Riser noted it wasn't just a revenue shortfall lawmakers overcame.
"It was a difficult session because we started off with a $1.3 billion revenue deficit," said Riser, R-Columbia. "The $700 million increase in spending mandated put us at about a $2 billion deficit when the session started -- that's above and beyond the other bills we passed."
One of the bills approved by the Legislature will move the calendar for regular sessions up by as much as three weeks.
Riser said he proposed legislation to move the session earlier to afford state agencies the time to examine their funding and craft better budgets at the close of the regular session.
The session currently ends just five days before the close of the fiscal year, leaving agencies very little time to adjust budgets.
Riser also said there were other reasons for moving the session earlier.
When the adjusted calendar takes affect in 2012, lawmakers will find they have more summer days off to spend with their families, without adding any days to the session calendar.
Riser said the move "just makes sense."
"There's just no reason, when every other state in the session ends in May for us to go into July," Riser said.