Legislators indicated Monday that they might wait months to deal with a $211 million shortfall in state revenue.
“The number does not go away,” state Rep. Jim Fannin told members of the Louisiana House Committee on Appropriations. Fannin, D-Jonesboro, is the committee’s chairman and sponsor of the state budget legislation.
The delay essentially would require legislators to ignore that there is a revenue problem until the books are audited for the fiscal year that ends June 30. The audit would reveal a deficit, which would have to be dealt with since state government is required to have a balanced budget.
A final audit is due by Dec. 31.
Normally, the issue would be addressed in House Bill 1059, the supplemental state budget.
The committee made some tweaks to the legislation Monday without delving into the shortfall.
Fannin said there is not enough time or spending capacity left in the current fiscal year to eliminate the problem through cuts.
The other option, he said, would be to take money from the state’s “rainy day” fund.
After the meeting, Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater, the governor’s top budget aide, declined to comment on whether he is in favor of waiting months to address the shortfall.
“We’re going to work with the chairman,” Rainwater said. “I think we’re still in conversations.”