DALLAS - Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is asking lawmakers to approve a $30.1 billion budget for fiscal 2009 that cuts some jobs but basically continues the level of funding for most state agencies.
The proposed executive budget includes $15 billion in state funds, of which $9.2 billion is directly from the general fund, and $15.1 billion in federal funds. Total expenditures for fiscal 2009 are down $4.2 billion from fiscal 2008, due to a $4.7 billion reduction in federal funds from $19.8 billion in fiscal 2008.
The decline in federal funding reflects the winding down of the federally funded Welcome Home hurricane rebuilding effort.
The budget was presented Friday to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget by director of administration Angéle Davis.
Louisiana has a $1.1 billion surplus from fiscal 2007 and expects a $981 million surplus from fiscal 2008 when it ends in June, but Davis said the budget plan for fiscal 2009 reflects the likelihood that state revenues will fall as the economic boost from hurricane recovery efforts begins to fade.
Davis told the budget committee that the proposed executive budget is "the beginning of a new direction" for Louisiana.
"Although current revenues are strong, it is important to consider predictions of steady revenue declines in coming years," Davis said. "The responsible thing for us to do today is to prepare for those future years where we see our revenues declining."
Projections show a $1.2 billion shortfall in fiscal 2010 as general fund revenues slip to $8.8 billion, she said, escalating steadily to $1.9 billion in fiscal 2013 with general fund revenues of $8.9 billion as the state's rapid economic growth begins to slow down.
Davis said the proposed budget is fiscally responsible and meets the state's urgent needs.
"Not everybody got everything they wanted," she said. "But we feel, from our perspective, that everybody got what they needed."
The use of one-time revenues for recurring expenses was been cut almost in half from the fiscal 2008 budget, she said, to $400 million in fiscal 2009. The budget cuts 1,465 state jobs, but adds almost 400 new ones, to bring the total job loss to 1,057. The new jobs include 259 positions at state colleges and universities and 55 new highway patrol and gaming enforcement slots.
The Legislature wrapped up its special session on ethics reform on Feb. 26, but Davis said the governor will call another special session beginning March 9 to consider $110 million in business tax cuts he will propose. Lawmakers will also use the session to allocate excess revenues from fiscal 2007.
Davis did not give figures on how the surplus will be spent but said Jindal will outline how he wants lawmakers to distribute much of the $1.1 billion surplus before the special session begins.
Proposals will include approximately $73 million for the budget stabilization fund, she said, and contributions to reduce the unfunded liabilities in the state employee and teacher retirement funds.
Other allocations will include matches to obtain federal funds for levee restoration and a significant investment in capital projects at the state's ports. The governor will also ask legislators to dedicate revenues from state motor fuel taxes and vehicle fees to transportation needs, Davis said.
Among the constitutionally authorized uses of the surplus funds is debt reduction. Davis said the state will pay $551 million in debt service in fiscal 2009, including $290.2 million on GOs, $128.4 million on appropriations-supported debt, $105.6 million on revenue bonds, $7.8 million on other self-supported debt, and $23.1 million on Gulf Opportunity Zone bonds.
Almost $800 million of the fiscal 2008 surplus is included in the fiscal 2009 budget to pay for health care programs, student scholarships, and other one-time expenditures.