Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said last week that he will not use new taxes or fees to balance the fiscal 2012 budget despite a projected revenue shortfall of $1.6 billion.

Jindal said his position includes a proposal for a new state fee on health care services similar to an existing fee on nursing homes. He also rejected a hospital-bed fee and a pharmacy charge.

The Republican governor made his pledge at a two-hour meeting to outline his plans for balancing next year's budget. He discussed the situation with physicians, nurses, pharmacists, hospital officials, and social service advocates.

Jindal said the state would seek to reduce its $7 billion annual bill for Medicaid through improvements to its health care system. He suggested using local tax dollars generated through hospital service districts to replace state funds now used to match federal health care grants.

Jindal has held briefing sessions with education officials, and said he would meet with other groups before the executive budget is developed early next year.

"This is the very early part of the normal process of developing the budget," Jindal said. "This is not just a one-time conversation."

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