Lawmakers seek injunction against Jindal budget

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Two Jefferson Parish lawmakers on Monday asked a judge to block the use of patchwork financing in next

year's budget, toughening their legal challenge against Gov. Bobby Jindal's budgeting tactics.

Republican Reps. Kirk Talbot and Cameron Henry filed an amended petition to their original lawsuit that asked for the current

2012-13 budget to be declared unconstitutional because it uses one-time money to pay for ongoing programs and services.

The amended lawsuit claims the same

constitutional problems with Jindal's proposed $24.8 billion budget for

the fiscal year

that begins July 1 and seeks an injunction against the use of such

piecemeal financing before lawmakers vote on the spending

recommendations.

"After looking at the administration's budget for the upcoming fiscal year, it is clear that it contains the same constitutional

issues as the current fiscal year budget that prompted our lawsuit," Talbot, R-River Ridge, said in a statement.

No hearing date was immediately set by Judge Tim Kelley of Baton Rouge.

The lawsuit is part of an ongoing dispute

between conservative House Republicans nicknamed the "fiscal hawks" and

the GOP

governor over Jindal's approach to crafting annual spending plans

for the state. The governor's proposals traditionally form

the base of each year's budget.

The lawsuit says this year's $25 billion

budget is unconstitutional because it spends $240 million more from the

state general

fund than the amount recognized by the state's income forecasting

panel and because it doesn't follow constitutional limits

on spending money deemed "nonrecurring."

Talbot and Henry also take issue in the lawsuit with the budget using dollars that haven't materialized, like $35 million

from the sale or lease of the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital and $56 million in property insurance claims.

One-time dollars in this year's budget come from items such as state property sales, loan repayments, legal settlements and

unused fund balances.

In his spending proposal for the upcoming 2013-14 fiscal year, Jindal again uses similar financing methods tied to fund shifts,

lease arrangements and property sales that haven't yet happened. The governor's budget proposal plugs $489 million in the

piecemeal funding into public colleges.

The Jindal administration has said that

without those dollars, state officials would be forced to make

unnecessary cuts to

higher education and health care services. The governor has

defended the budget tactics as constitutional and repeatedly approved

by lawmakers.

The fiscal hawks say it's irresponsible to use money that isn't certain to appear year after year and claim it causes perpetual

budget shortfalls. But they have been unsuccessful in persuading enough of their colleagues to block use of the money.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the state, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and Treasurer John Kennedy.