Louisiana’s chief legislative economist, Greg Albrecht, told the Baton Rouge Press Club this week that more revenue problems could lie ahead.
A legal dispute among lawmakers on the use of the state’s rainy-day fund in 2009 could result in a $150 million revenue shortfall. The Legislature overrode Gov. Bobby Jindal’s objections by taking $198 million from the $828 million fund to balance the fiscal 2011 budget.
Albrecht said Monday that a hearing on a lawsuit over the fund filed by former state Rep. Ron Gomez will be heard in state district court in January. He contends the Legislature was bound by the state constitution rather than the law.
The constitution required the fund be reimbursed from oil and gas severance taxes by the end of fiscal 2011, but lawmakers relied on a new law that postponed repayment until the revenues exceeded a high level of collections. A proposed constitutional amendment to lengthen the repayment period to five years was rejected by voters.
A ruling against the state could create a liability up to $150 million to reimburse the rainy-day fund by the end of fiscal 2012 or in fiscal 2013, Albrecht said. Jindal reduced spending by $251 million in the current budget after revenue projections were lowered last week.