SURPRISE! John Bel Edwards Isn’t Really Cutting Anything In His Budget Plan

John Fail Edwards released his plan to balance the state budget for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2017. After warning of Armageddon if the Legislature didn’t come back to special session, he released his plan today.

From The Advocate:

Edwards wants lawmakers to use $119 million from the state’s reserves to lessen the need for cuts to state services. That would leave $185 million that has to be made up through other adjustments, but some lawmakers have said they would prefer to make further cuts, rather than dipping into the rainy day fund.

Edwards’ plan doesn’t include cuts to K-12 education base funding, higher education, waiver programs, prisons or social services. The popular Taylor Opportunity Program for Students also would not be further reduced.

Edwards’ plan calls for 2.5 percent cuts to the judiciary and the state Legislature budgets; pulling back money that was intended for a new office building for the Legislative Auditor; sweeping $3.98 million from an Attorney General escrow account; and a reduction of statutory dedications for the Department of Transportation and Development, among other proposals.

Edwards doesn’t want to actually cut anything. He wants to use money from the state’s rainy day fund and cut future projects. He also wants to do “fund sweeps”, which actually isn’t a bad idea, to leave the state a balanced budget.

 

Edwards is also claiming he has cut the size of state government as governor. But an examination of Edwards’s record by the AP’s Melinda Deslatte proves otherwise.

Is delaying the opening of a new juvenile lockup facility in Bunkie — not paying for something the state hasn’t paid for previously — really a cut? What about eliminating dollars agencies didn’t spend on employees because of a hiring freeze? How about using federal financing to pay for things that state dollars once covered, without lessening services?

[…]But the Edwards administration list also includes $184 million tied to the expansion of Louisiana’s Medicaid program, which provides government-financed health insurance to the working poor.

It’s hard to call that a cut when more people are getting services.

The state saved $184 million of its own tax dollars this year by tapping into enhanced federal financing rates for coverage it already provided to the poor and uninsured. In other words, the state’s spending $184 million less of its own revenue — while adding billions in additional federal dollars to provide more health care.

Also on the Edwards administration list is $161 million in mid-year reductions made in December to help close an earlier deficit. That budget-rebalancing plan used savings from hiring and spending freezes and tapped into other pots of money to fill some of the gap.

House Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry said true cuts tallied closer to $36 million.

“The net effect to some of these agencies was zero,” said Henry, R-Metairie.

Edwards is ideologically opposed to cutting anything. The constituency of what’s left of the Louisiana Democratic Party is reliant on state spending. Cuts to the state budget would hurt them.

Which is precisely why Republicans need to cut as much as they can from the state budget. Not just because a smaller government is best for Louisiana but because it would hurt the left’s various constituencies.

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