Last Modified: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 12:10 PM
BATON ROUGE (AP) — A leader of conservative House Republicans called it "shameful" Tuesday that a GOP-controlled Louisiana Legislature passed a $25.6 billion budget that contained one-time funding scraped together to avert deep cuts to state services.
Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, said while the GOP holds the governor's office and both chambers of the Legislature, little has changed at the state capitol in budgeting maneuvers.
"The Republican Party better stand up, because we're not doing anything different now that we're in power," Geymann told a luncheon hosted by the Republican Party of East Baton Rouge Parish.
Geymann is one of three dozen lawmakers in the House who call themselves "fiscal hawks" and who pushed for reduced spending in the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The group wanted to remove nearly $270 million in one-time money that will pay for ongoing expenses, saying it's irresponsible to use the patchwork financing that isn't certain to appear year after year. The dollars come from the sale of state-owned buildings, loan repayments, legal settlements and other available pools of funding.
Disagreement over the use of one-time money was the central dispute as lawmakers crafted the final 2012-13 spending plans before adjourning earlier this month.
"I think we did a shameful job when we allowed this budget to go out under the control of the Republicans, the conservatives," Geymann said.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration and senators who unanimously agreed to use the money say public colleges and health services would have faced devastating cuts without the funding.
The bloc of conservative House Republicans — backed by two GOP leaders, U.S. Sen. David Vitter and Treasurer John Kennedy — argued the spending reductions could come from cuts to unnecessary contracts, funding for unfilled jobs, travel and supplies.
But the administration disagreed.
Jindal's top budget adviser and agency chiefs said the cuts pushed by the House conservatives would jeopardize public safety by closing prisons, eliminate medical training programs, shutter a breast and cervical cancer treatment program, close several optional Medicaid programs and push college campuses to financial emergency status.
Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin said the governor balanced the budget without raising taxes or expanding gambling, as predecessors have done. He said, "If Mr. Geymann has a better plan for balancing the budget, he should offer it."
Geymann and Rep. Hunter Greene said the scenarios laid out to senators in their budget hearings were designed to ramp up fear and confusion.
"The testimony in the Senate was just ridiculous," Greene, R-Baton Rouge, told the luncheon.
When the spending plans won final passage with the one-time money included, the Republican Jindal described the budget as responsible and protective of critical services, while also continuing to shrink the size of government.Online: The budget bill is filed as House Bill 1 and can be found at www.legis.la.gov
Posted By: Mack On: 6/13/2012
Title: Politics as USUAL
Your efforts are recognized and applauded Mr. Geymann. However and unfortunately, the only thing that's changed about Louisiana's political system; particularly the person in the Governor's Office; is the name. Louisiana is known throughout the nation for its corrupt politicians and political process. What's more, what's the difference betweeen Louisiana politics and the rest of the nation? one word, NOTHING. One is as corrupt as the other with finger pointing running rampid.
Posted By: Phil On: 6/13/2012
Title: Geymann's crazy
All these "hawks" would accomplish by taking one-time money out of the budget would be the total destruction of higher ed and health care - that's just how it has gone down for the last five years now! Maybe they should move to protect hospitals and colleges constitutionally so that they could force cuts to the rest of the state government (which generally wastes so much money and has so much pork it is ridiculous).