Budget analysts give state lawmakers the bad news on the deficit

BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - State officials learned Friday morning that the projected deficit for this fiscal year will be at least $340 million.

A special legislative session appears likely after analysts told state lawmakers the bad news on the state deficit.

The $340 million is on the low end of many budget estimates

But it is real money creating real problems that must be dealt with.

State lawmakers began grappling with the budget in one of the first meetings of the year.

The budget picture may not be as bad as previously thought. The price of oil is now projected to hit $42 a barrel this fiscal year.

But lawmakers hoping for a boost from Amazon's decision to start charging sales taxes were somewhat disappointed.

"The only thing they make are kindles," said Greg Albrecht. "Most of the things they sell aren't their products. We project maybe $17 million annually."

These figures are not etched in stone.

One analyst is still pegging the deficit much higher at around $500 million. That makes a special session to cut the budget is a near certainty.

The budget has been hurt by a decline in gaming revenues.

Governor John Bel Edwards has said if he calls a special session it will likely be in mid-February.

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