A bill proposed by Louisiana Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, would allow an ailing member of the Revenue Estimating Conference to designate an interim stand-in, and avoid a potential delay in revenue estimates needed to develop the state budget.

The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Monday.

Alario said he is concerned that Jim Richardson, an economist with Louisiana State University who sits on the revenue panel, won't be able to attend the group's next meeting in early May because he is recovering from heart surgery.

Without Richardson's presence, an official revenue estimate could not be accepted.

The revenue estimate certified by the conference to develop the state budget must be accepted unanimously.

If the estimate is delayed by Richardson's absence, the state budget for fiscal 2013 could be in limbo, according to Alario.

The House is expected to complete its work on the budget in the first week of May.

The revenue panel, which consists of an economist, the governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the House, considers economic outlooks from the Legislative Fiscal Office and the Department of Administration to set an official revenue estimate.

State law requires that one panel member be "a faculty member with revenue forecasting expertise from a public or private university."

The interim panelist would have to meet the requirement.

The other three members can designate a representative, but current state law does not endow the panel's economist with that authority.

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