HB 822 Passes The House, And Now The Budget Really Is A Mess

The final vote was 63-38, which is less than the 2/3rds vote you’re supposed to have to include one-time money in the state budget.

But since the bill was HB 822 rather than HB 1, apparently it doesn’t matter since it’s not actually the state budget they voted on today.

HB 822 is the bill that enables the use of one-time money, though. So it’s complete chaos.

The Times-Picayune doesn’t seem to be able to make any more sense out of this than we can…

Representatives in favor of restoring $268 million in one-time money to Louisiana’s budget cleared a major hurdle Thursday morning, gaining House approval for a measure that pulls that money from dedicated state funds. By passing the bill, representatives gave the Senate, which has not yet taken up the $25 billion budget in House Bill 1, the ability to restore that money to avoid budget cuts.

House Bill 822, which moves money between various state funds, passed on a 63-38 vote. In addition to the one-time money that been at the center of the state budget battle this year, the bill also includes about $68 million in recurring revenue and House Appropriations Chairman Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, warned that failing to pass it would lead to even deeper cuts.

Fannin said that while he continue to work in the future to reduce one-time money in the budget, completely eliminating that option this year would be devastating.

“On top of all the cuts we’ve had to take the last two years, I’d like for it to be a softer landing than just dropping a bomb,” Fannin said. “I’d like us to continue to work the one-time money out of this.”

Opponents of the bill tried to rally those who had successfully amended the state budget last week to remove all one-time money.

“This is the bill that has the one-time money in it,” said Rep. Brett Geyman, R-Lake Charles. “If you don’t think we should be using one-time money, I don’t think you can vote for this bill.”

Since the House stripped the one-time money, those in favor of the measure have fought with administration officials over the impact of the move. The administration has said the only way to make up that gap is by imposing drastic cuts on healthcare and higher education, claims one-time money opponents, including state Treasurer John Kennedy, have referred to as scare tactics that ignore less painful areas where the state could trim fat.

“I think this strategy in politicizing cuts and putting fear in people is being used right now as a defense against what fiscal conservatives are trying to accomplish with the amendment to House Bill 1,” Rep. Tony Ligi, R-Metairie, said.

Together, the two bills put the House in a strange posture. Representatives have now set one-time money aside but have explicitly prohibited the administration from actually using it.

What a zoo.

Meanwhile, we’ve got a full-on media assault all over the state on the part of the public colleges and public hospitals in favor of running an unbalanced budget. To wit…


Advocate: LSU system: Cuts would close hospital units – Marsha Shuler

Proposed state budget cuts would prompt emergency mental health treatment unit closings, surgical program eliminations, emergency room service reductions and bed closures at LSU hospitals across south Louisiana, LSU officials said Wednesday.

Shreve Times: Cuts could close the medical school – Icess Fernandez

If the state budget were to be enacted as is, the medical school in Shreveport would be closed and LSU-Shreveport would be severely handicapped, the LSU system said.

KATC: LSU Projects Impact of Hospital Budget Cuts – Staff Writer

Inpatient beds would be sharply reduced, operating rooms closed and mental health services slashed if $24.5 million in pending budget cuts are imposed on the seven hospitals that make up the LSU Health Care Services Division (LSUHCSD).

KALB: LSU Ag Center Potential Budget Cuts – Staff Writer

Every year when the state budget is released, cuts are also announced, and here in Central Louisiana there is one organization that seems to always be on the chopping block. News Channel Five’s Nolan Crane reports.

LSU Reveille: Proposed cuts could launch University into exigency – Andrea Gallo

Financial exigency can seriously tarnish the credibility of a university, and in the past, Faculty Senate President Kevin Cope has said it would take “draconian” budget cuts to push LSU to that breaking point. But those cuts could be coming rapidly.


AN 17: Southeastern faces ADDITIONAL $16.5 million cut – Staff Writer

If the budget bill (HB1) currently moving through the Louisiana Legislature is not amended, Southeastern Louisiana University is slated to lose $16.5 million in state appropriations.

Hammond Star: Dark Ages or enlightened advice – Editorial Staff Writer

Education and health care in Louisiana teeter on the precipice of the Dark Ages.

KATC: Budget Cuts May Lead to Fewer Classes, Workers for McNeese – Ian Auzenne

Officials at McNeese State University are concerned about possible budget cuts the school may face of state legislators pass a proposed budget bill.

Sulphur Daily News: McNeese facing possible $8.8 million in budget cuts – Staff Writer

If the budget bill (HB1) currently moving through the Louisiana Legislature is not amended, McNeese State University is slated to lose $8.8 million in state appropriations. 
This will bring McNeese’s total state funding reductions since Fiscal Year 2008-09 to $25.4 million (56 percent).

KPLC: SOWELA warns of effects of proposed budget cuts – Staff Writer

Proposed double-digit cuts in state funding to SOWELA Technical Community College would reduce staffing, limit course offerings and jeopardize progress toward accreditation process at the fastest-growing higher-ed institution in the state, SOWELA officials said Tuesday.

KNOE: Louisiana budget cuts: higher education on chopping block – Victoria Shirley

A leaner state budget bill is making its way through the Louisiana Legislature. The bill is leaner because, Louisiana’s budget for next year is in the red. The shortfall is forcing law makers to cut $270 million dollars. With the constitution and federal mandates protecting 70% of the operating budget, Lawmakers have little choice about where the axe will fall.

News Star: Cuts threaten quality education – Amritha Alladi

The core academic missions of northeastern Louisiana universities are threatened by about $134 million in proposed additional cuts to state appropriations for the University of Louisiana System, university administrators said Wednesday.

Natchitoches Times: Northwestern State facing $9.4 million in cuts – Staff Writer

If the budget bill (HB1) currently moving through the Louisiana Legislature is not amended Northwestern State University is slated to lose $9.4 million in state appropriations. This will bring Northwestern State’s total state funding reductions since fiscal year 2008/09 to $27.3 million (55 percent). As the current budget proposal stands, total reductions in state general fund support for all of higher education since FY 2008/09 would reach $585 million.

KALB: NSU Faces $9.4 M Budget Cuts – Staff Writer

If House Bill 1, also known as the budget bill, is not amended, Northwestern State University could lose $9.4 million in state appropriation, according to officials Tuesday.

KSLA: Louisiana Universities react to proposed budget cuts – Staff Writer

Devastating and catastrophic are just a few of the words higher education leaders have used to describe the budget that the Louisiana House of Representatives passed Tuesday. That budget has major cuts to both higher education and healthcare.

Advertiser: Lafayette colleges poised to cut $25M – Amanda McElfresh

Officials at local colleges and universities are preparing for the possibility of eliminating some departments or programs as more state budget cuts loom this summer.


Ruston Daily Leader: GSU FACES $5.5M CUT – Staff Writer

If the budget bill (HB1) currently moving through the Louisiana Legislature is not amended, Grambling State University is slated to lose $5.5 million in state appropriations.

WAFB: DHH proposal eliminates program for kids with disabilities – Cheryl Mercedes

Thousands of parents raising children with special needs have their eyes glued on the Louisiana Capitol.

TP: The real-life effect of Louisiana’s budget cuts – Keith Spera

This week’s budgetary brinkmanship in Baton Rouge may slash tens of millions of dollars from the Department of Health and Hospitals. Early Steps, which assists young Louisianians saddled with significant developmental delays, is among the programs at risk of elimination.

TP: Gov. Bobby Jindal and state Senate will quell pesky House: John Maginnis – John Maginnis

The upside for the Jindal administration, after the gutting of its budget, is that the appropriations bill is out of the rebellious House and with the friendly hands and wise heads of the Senate. Led by the masterful Senate President John Alario, the upper chamber can be relied upon to restore the so-called “one-time” revenues deleted by the House and then, teamed with Gov. Bobby Jindal, quell the pesky House conservatives and pass the budget basically as written.

Shreve Times: Louisiana senator: Focus on what’s needed for a college degree – Mike Hasten

A Louisiana lawmaker believes the state’s public universities should examine their degree requirements and eliminate courses that are not really needed for earning a diploma.

Last week’s dramatics were great, and it was nice to see an honest debate about the necessity for Louisiana to actually balance its budget.

Except we’re not getting a balanced budget this year. We’re getting one-time money. That’s becoming obvious. The Senate is going to be cast as riding to the rescue to save higher education and health care from the crazy Tea Partiers, and Louisiana will raid the rainy-day fund because it’s the “responsible” thing to do.

And then this problem will be twice as big next year.

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