Revenue Estimating Conference meets to discuss state finances

Yesterday, a report was presented to the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference (REC), which gave an overview of the state’s finances. REC’s role is to predict state revenue to determine how much the government has to spend.

The four-member REC includes the state House speaker, the president of the state Senate, an official representing the governor’s office, and one other member.

This week the members interviewed three candidates to replace Jim Richardson, an academic economist, who has held the fourth position.

REC members are also anticipated to appoint another member to the Louisiana Board of Regents at their next meeting in September. The board nominated Stephen Barnes and Gregory Upton, both of LSU, and Gary Wagner of UL-Lafayette for an open position.

Louisiana reported having a surplus of roughly $300 million for the fiscal year ending June 30. Last fiscal year, actual incentive expenditures cost slightly more than $501 million, roughly $100 million less than projected.

This fiscal year, the state’s tax incentive programs are expected to cost almost $686 million, with the most expensive one being the Motion Picture Investor Tax Credit, of $180 million.

The Department of Revenue also said it is “unable to anticipate” the cost of four programs.

Louisiana State Treasurer John Schroder says the state’s Budget Stabilization Fund, or “rainy day” fund, has roughly $405 million.

When the state has a projected budget shortfall, legislators can appropriate up to one-third of the rainy day fund to fill the gap. The constitution requires approval of two-thirds of lawmakers in both chambers in order to spend it.

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