$1.38 billion of $9.4 billion General Fund revenue set to go away next summer

Members of the Louisiana House of Representatives – Democrats, independents and Republicans – met in Baton Rouge Thursday for one-day retreat to learn about budget issues looming next year.

 Louisiana faces a significant “fiscal cliff” when $1.38 billion in temporary revenue ends July 1. That $1.38 billion is part of the $9.4 billion in the budget funded by state tax revenues. The entire current state budget – including federal money and other revenue – is $29.5 billion.

 “This retreat was a chance for us all to start with the same information,” said Rep. Gene Reynolds, D-Minden, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

 “We all know what the problem is and we know there are no easy solutions. We need to decide on 2-3 scenarios to solve this crisis then find the votes,” Reynolds said.

 “We had a very positive response from our members,” said Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, chairman of the Louisiana Legislative Republican Delegation.  

 “It was an invigorating exercise to be able to rehash old data plus get some new.   This is the first step in moving us forward to resolving our problems,” Harris said.   

 “From this point forward, we will be meeting as separate delegations and then come back together, hopefully with solutions that mitigate the problems we are facing in the future,” Harris said.

 In a series of presentations, legislative staff members and the chairmen of the two “money” committees briefed representatives about current and projected state revenues, where that money is spent and tax breaks for individuals and businesses.

 Speaker Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, asked members at the retreat to be innovative in solving this problem. “It’s time to think a little bit outside of the box,” he said. “Think about long-term solutions.”

 Sixty-five members of the 103 members of the House of Representatives attended Thursday’s meeting. Two of the 105 House seats are currently vacant.