Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s chief budget officer asked the Legislature on Memorial Day to back off from cuts sought by lawmakers to the governor’s $25 billion budget proposal.
The fiscal 2012 spending plan proposed by the House last week includes an additional $200 million of spending cuts not requested by Jindal. The House also rejected Jindal’s plans to sell state prisons to private operators and raise the retirement contribution by state employees.
Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater asked the House Finance Committee to restore the spending cuts and allow the sale of the prisons.
“My request to this committee is to not lose sight of the bigger picture and long-term progress of this state,” he said.
The House also wants to take $82 million from an economic development incentive fund that the Republican governor said is needed to attract new jobs to the state. His proposed executive budget contained $600 million of cuts from current spending.
Speaker Jim Tucker said the House had to slash Jindal’s proposal because it includes $200 million of spending contingent upon the prison sales and other measures. “The [House] budget is balanced, it’s constitutional, and it minimizes one-time monies,” he said. “Hard choices had to be made.”
Jindal said the House’s plan to cut $121 million from the Department of Health and Hospitals’ $8 billion budget would result in the loss of $300 million in federal matching funds. “It would be foolish for us to be cutting health care, education and other critical services when we have the money in hand,” he said.