Most of the additional money recognized Monday by Louisiana’s Revenue Estimating Conference should be treated like a short-term largesse as it relates to the state budget, the Public Affairs Research Council writes in a new commentary.
The four-member Revenue Estimating Conference, which determines how much money the state will collect from taxes and fees based on analysis from economists, boosted the forecasts for the current and next budget years by a combined $802 million.
PAR writes that the surplus dollars should be prioritized to pay down debts and address longstanding infrastructure needs, rather than growing the state government. Economists
who advise the estimating conference cautioned against assuming the hefty income boom will continue.
Addressing the multibillion-dollar backlog of road and bridge work is a wise use of the cash, PAR writes, particularly setting aside a sizable sum to build a new Mississippi River bridge in the Baton Rouge area.
House and Senate leaders have been reluctant to embrace financing for the project because an exact route for the bridge hasn’t been chosen.
Edwards wants to use $50 million in next year’s budget to further boost proposed pay raises for employees at K-12 public schools, which are struggling with retaining and attracting staff. He wants to increase the planned salary hike for teachers from $1,500 to $2,000 and for support workers such as bus drivers and cafeteria aides from $750 to $1,000. See the full commentary from PAR.