Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal last week said that everything is on the table in balancing last year’s budget except new taxes. The state must cut fiscal 2011 spending by at least $108 million to balance the books for fiscal 2010, which ended June 30.
“We’re not going to raise taxes,” Jindal said. “We haven’t changed our position. We don’t think that’s the answer to this challenge.”
The state apparently ended fiscal 2010 with a deficit due to an unexpected drop in corporate income tax revenue. Officials will officially notify the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget of the shortfall at its Oct. 22 meeting.
Once the committee officially recognizes the shortfall, Jindal has 30 days to cut spending to balance the budget.
The Republican governor can reduce state agency budgets by 3% without approval from lawmakers, which would account for the current shortfall. Deeper cuts would require legislative action.
The state constitution requires that the annual budget be balanced at the end of the fiscal year. Any shortfalls must be made up by the end of fiscal 2011.
Kyle Plotkin, Jindal’s press secretary, said the governor hopes to avoid cuts to higher education and health care.
Jindal said state agencies have been asked to identify additional cuts in the event Louisiana loses a lawsuit challenging its use of $198 million of rainy-day funds to balance the fiscal 2010 budget.