Funding for education, K-12 schools, state medical facilities and health units, and others providing state services were protected during the special legislative session that adjourned Wednesday. The special session dealt with an estimated 304-point-6 million-dollar shortfall in the state budget.
Area Representative Terry Brown said “my goal was to fund schools, hospitals, and infrastructure in the parishes in his district. We took care of the health unit and rural hospital in Red River parish.”
Senator Gerald Long says, “About 205 million dollars of the shortfall was absorbed through cuts in the Department of Health and Human Services. Long adds “most other state departments will have a 2 to 3 percent reduction.”
Both Long and Brown had praise for Governor John Bel Edwards’ handling of the state’s finances. Long put it this way, “Governor Edwards was absolutely remarkable in dealing the state budget situation.”
As for the future, the regular legislative session this spring will have to tackle what Senator Long terms a weak economy, a decrease in oil and gas revenues, and the need for more economic growth. Brown says, “The Easter Bunny is not going to show up and pay the indebtedness of the state.” Brown says some of the spending priorities need to be changed in order to continue state services to Louisianians who need them.