NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, proposed a $30 billion budget for state government’s upcoming fiscal year that includes pay raises for public school teachers.
But some at the State Capitol say it is an imaginary budget because Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras has for months blocked higher revenue projections from becoming official.
The state’s chief budget architect presented the proposal to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, a bipartisan panel of state lawmakers.
“We know and there has been acknowledgement that things are better in this state, and that there is an improved revenue forecast, but unless and until the Speaker is willing to recognize a forecast we can’t act on money that has not yet been recognized,” said Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne.
But the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, where budget bills originate, supports Barras’ position.
"What Taylor is doing is, he's looking at what we've done in the past and make sure we do not repeat it. That is, appropriate money that we really don't have. The budget's based on an estimate and he wants to make sure that the economists are using the most accurate information. The longer we wait the more accurate the information becomes. That's just historical facts,” said Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie.
The Edwards administration says Barras’ reluctance to accept the higher revenue projections is causing unnecessary uncertainty about what money agencies will have during the fiscal year that begins July 1.
But Rep. Henry said there is still time to have a higher revenue forecast approved.
Lawmakers will approve a new budget during the legislative session which begins in April and runs through early June.