Gov. Edwards presents worst-case budget plan - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

Copy-Gov. Edwards presents worst-case budget plan

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

Governor John Bel Edwards talked Monday before a packed committee room about Louisiana's budget reform.

Edwards' operating budget proposal is $25.3 billion, which is down from $28.1 billion this year. He presented his worst-case budget plan. 

"This is what falling off the cliff looks like," Edwards said.

He said he still has not received an alternative plan from House leadership for how to deal with fiscal cliff.

"I cannot negotiate with myself. It doesn’t work that way," Edwards explained.

"To say I am frustrated would be an understatement," he added.

He is calling for cooperation from the legislature. 

"Let’s prove that we’re not Washington, D.C. There’s a majority in this legislature that want to fix this cliff," he said.

Sen. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, said she’s "angry" that those who rely on NOW and other healthcare waivers will have to come back yet again to ask for funding

Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Bastrop, said a special session is needed in February, because students are currently making decisions on where to go to college and they need to know about funding levels for higher education.

Edwards also indicated budget cuts could put deals with partnership hospitals in jeopardy.

Rep. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge, said he hopes the governor will be "flexible" in budget negotiations. He suggested he didn’t feel Edwards was last year.

The governor is not ruling out a February special session, saying there's no reason to go into a regular session without trying to fix the budget first. As of the end of last week, there wasn't any certainty if he would call for a special session.

Last month, Edwards introduced his tax plan to replace the billion dollars in revenue falling off the books. Republican leaders pushed back, saying the governor's plan didn't include specifics.

House Speaker Taylor Barras said he's floated four "budget reform" ideas to Edwards that GOP lawmakers want to see in a possible February special session.

Dr. Ray L. Belton, President-Chancellor of the Southern University System, issued a statement in response to Gov. Edwards' budget proposal. 

"In regards to Gov. Edwards’ budget proposal to the Joint Legislative Committee this morning, I urge our lawmakers to consider our students, communities and the overall picture of what higher education and the Southern University System in particular bring to the State of Louisiana. I am confident that no one — including our legislators — want to see us "fall off the cliff." We all have the obligation to ensure that our higher education institutions fulfill their promise of a quality education, lifelong learning and success in the global workforce. It is my hope that a special session will be called in February to address these potentially disastrous cuts before we enter a new fiscal year."

The Louisiana Hospital Association also released a statement in response to the proposed budget cuts. The statement reads:

After hearing the Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2018-2019 as presented today to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, the Louisiana Hospital Association and its member hospitals and health systems are deeply concerned about the effects of proposed healthcare cuts of this magnitude. 

The budget cuts proposed under this worst-case scenario would be detrimental to the health of our residents and our economy in every region of the state. If these cuts materialize, they could lead to a drastic reduction of some hospital services and medical education in communities across Louisiana.

We understand that our elected leaders are facing difficult budget decisions, and we stand ready to work with them to protect access to medical services and to retain highly-skilled healthcare jobs in our recovering economy. 

Copyright 2018 WAFB. All rights reserved.

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