More patchwork financing coming from the governor’s office
The use of one-time funds for reoccurring expenses has proven to be irresponsible time and time again, yet our governor continues to propose using patchwork financing to cover gaps in the state’s budget.
Governor Bobby Jindal is showing yet again, that he believes the state’s budget should rely on the use of one-time funds, despite having back to back years of steep mid-year budget cuts to critical services like health care and education that have proven this strategy does not work.
Year after year, state lawmakers have had to battle with the governor over the use of one-time funds to fill state budget gaps, and it seems that this year is no different.
This week a House budget-writing committee stripped nearly $500 million in patchwork financing proposed by Jindal’s from next year’s $24 billion budget, which could lead to steep cuts on health care and colleges. The House will consider the budget next Thursday.
Leaders in the House pushed to remove the piecemeal financing – which comes from land sales, legal settlements and fund sweeps – as a maneuver to steer the budget through the House. Without the one-time money included, the budget wouldn’t require the two-thirds vote that a bloc of conservative Republicans could use to stall the bill.
One-time dollars are funds that are only likely to materialize a single time.
A House rule enacted in 2011 makes it more difficult to use one-time money in future proposals by requiring a two-thirds vote of the Legislature when the dollars are used for recurring expenses. According to its authors, the rule was drafted to limit the amount of one-time dollars used to pay expenses that must be met year after year, as well as to compensate for a lack of will by legislators to make necessary cuts to the state’s ballooning budget.
Critics contend it is irresponsible to use the one-time dollars to pay for recurring expenses such as health care, but the governor has reportedly said he doesn’t see why funds from sales of prisons, land or legal settlements shouldn’t be used to fill the state’s billion-dollar-plus budget gaps.
Personally, I don’t think the state would have such gaping gaps in the budget if responsible decisions had been made in the past to use only use reoccurring funds for reoccurring expenses.
And this is not the first time that our governor has used such a strategy. In 2011, Jindal proposed a $24.9 billion state operating budget for that fiscal year that included $474 million in nonrecurring or one-time revenue streams, his plan hinging on selling state prisons to pay the state’s health-care expenses.
Jindal’s decision year after year to rely on one-time funds to plug gaps in the state’s nearly $25 billion budget is highly disappointing. Will he ever learn?
They say an indication of insanity is the ability to keep making the same bad decisions over and over again and expecting a different result. The drastic cuts to domestic violence, health care and charity hospitals and more are proof enough that using one-time funds to cover the cost of reoccurring expenses does not work. Just because services for the elderly, abused and the sick are eliminated by the state, doesn’t mean the need ever goes away. The taxpayers and the private sector will be forced to make up the difference.
In reality, I don’t think our governor really cares. He has his sights locked in on the year 2016, and is proving yet again that he only cares about improving his track record and making things look good on paper in order to further his national political aspirations. Regardless of our governor’s political future, it is highly unlikely that he will still be around when the money runs out in Louisiana.
It is high time Louisiana started living within its means. One-time money should be used for one-time expenses such as the much-needed road repair projects instead of for a haphazardly hashed out a budget.
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