Jindal plan to fill $171M budget hole includes amnesty revenues, department cuts and leaving 167 positions vacant

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration laid out its plan to fill a $171 million budget hole to lawmakers at the Capitol this morning, saying it plans to use proceeds from a tax amnesty, make some department funding reductions, reduce some government contracts, continue a spending freeze on non-essential purchases and refrain from making 167 new hires.

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says the plan calls for using about $130.4 million from the tax amnesty and other sources to help plug the hole. Another  $12 million will be saved by eliminating 167 non-essential vacant positions, she says, while another $6.2 million will be saved by contract reductions in the Department of Corrections, the Office of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Health and Hospitals, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Education, the Department of Transportation and Development and the Department of Revenue.

Another $10.9 million in savings was created by freezing non-essential spending in November, which included travel, supplies, operational and professional services. Another $18.4 million in other savings was identified within state agencies, she says.

Nichols presented the budget-rebalancing plan to the joint House and Senate budget committee this morning. The gap emerged in the $25 billion budget for the fiscal year that ends June 30. Louisiana’s income estimating panel dropped the revenue forecast last week because of slumping severance tax and mineral royalties from dropping oil prices, combined with weak growth in personal income taxes.

“Lower oil prices are good for Louisiana families at the gas pump, but they also mean that the state has less money to spend,” Nichols says in a prepared statement. “We worked closely with state agencies to create a responsible plan that balances the state budget without raising taxes and without affecting critical services.”

 

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