Treasurer: Louisiana has $300M-plus surplus from last year

Louisiana will have a surplus topping $300 million from the last budget year when the final numbers are settled next month, the state’s treasurer said Friday.

Treasurer John Schroder said the state recently closed the books on the 2017-18 budget year that ended June 30 with a cash balance exceeding $400 million, although the figure has to be audited and double-checked.

“We have a lot of cash in the bank,” the Republican elected official said. “We’re going to have a surplus in excess of $300 million. We still have some work to do to absolutely firm that number up.”

Schroder said his office couldn’t yet pinpoint why the state has the hefty surplus, whether tied to better-than-expected tax collections or some other explanations.

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ spokesman Richard Carbo confirmed Louisiana has a surplus, but he said the exact amount won’t be determined until mid-October.

“It is premature for the treasurer to be discussing any figure, but we will release more information at a later date,” Carbo said in a statement.

Carbo suggested the surplus was “another sign that Louisiana is headed in the right direction” financially. But conservative Republicans said it indicates the Democratic governor exaggerated the need for taxes to plug budget gaps.

“His unreasonable demands resulted in excess taxation,” Rep. Nancy Landry, a Lafayette Republican, posted on Twitter.

Earlier this year, lawmakers urged by Edwards passed nearly $500 million in taxes for this year’s budget. Edwards said state services would face deep, damaging cuts without the taxes. The largest amount of money came from renewal of 0.45%, or a little less than half, of an expiring 1% state sales tax. That sales tax was enacted for seven years, until mid-2025.

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