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Jindal's staff presents budget to lawmakers; some skeptical about revenues

New Orleans, La.—Governor Bobby Jindal has begun the process of trying to sell his budget proposal for the 2013-2014 fiscal year to the legislature.

But some lawmakers say there is too much speculation over millions of revenues contained in the spending plan. And some of the criticism is coming from within Jindal's own political party.

"It's an accounting gimmick, funny math, whatever you'd like to call it, it's not the way you run a state," said State Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie.

Members of Jindal's executive staff presented the budget to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget today. Thursday, Jindal talked to reporters about his proposed $24.7 billion spending plan.

He said it is a sensible budget during tight fiscal times which does not call for new taxes, but protects higher education and health care from further cuts.

"We think this is a good budget, a responsible budget, a balanced budget without raising taxes," said Jindal.

But when his Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols unveiled specifics of the budget to the legislative committee concerns were raised about whether some of the revenues the budget is based upon could set the state up for future fiscal headaches.

The budget relies on $424 million in one-time funding sources and tuition increases to maintain higher education funding at its current level.

Also the administration is banking on the privatization of some state owned hospitals to produce $781 million in savings for the new fiscal year.

But House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, balked at budget calculations which rely on potential savings from reforms that have not yet been approved by the legislature.

"Aren't those contingencies that were not supposed to be used to balance the budget? Are we going to be faced with another mid-year budget cuts because of those contingencies?" asked Kleckley.

"We're anticipating and excited about the passage of those reform efforts and expect to do that with the legislature effectively creating passage during the session," said Nichols.

But Henry said hopes do not always turn into reality in the budget.

And he thinks the governor's idea of doing away with the state income tax will face a whole lot of opposition.

"There's a lot of moving parts specifically with the number and you can't repeal income tax and you can't repeal sales tax and you can't remove exemptions until you have an honest look at what makes up the budget," he said.

The legislative sessions begins April 8.

For more information on the push back Jindal is getting from some fellow republicans, go to: www.thelensnola.org.

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