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Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Moss Bluff. (Associated Press)

Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Moss Bluff. (Associated Press)

Rep. Geymann discusses state budget reform

Last Modified: Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:04 PM

By John Guidroz / American Press

Since the legislative session wrapped up in June, Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Moss Bluff, said he and other legislators have focused on reforming the state’s budget process and have traveled across the state to talk about the effort.

“We have been meeting with stakeholder groups and business leaders,” Geymann said Wednesday. “It has been remarkable the response we got in those meetings. We’re listening to them about how it relates to their industry.”

Geymann — who sits on the House Appropriations Committee — formed a group in July so lawmakers could work on creating a spending plan that is more fiscally responsible. He said he has talked about the budget with groups like the Council for A Better Louisiana and the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana.

Geymann said the group plans to present the Legislature with a package of constitutional amendments that will hopefully make the budget process more transparent, lessen the reliance on one-time funds, and prioritize funding for health care and higher education. The next legislative session begins in April.

“It’s a work in progress; there’s a lot of moving parts to it,” he said. “We’re just focused on getting the message out to stakeholder groups.”

Health care

Geymann said he was frustrated that lawmakers were not included in the discussion about specific cuts to the LSU Health Care System and the university-run hospitals, including W.O. Moss Regional Medical Center.

“The end result may be the same, but we needed a seat at the table earlier, rather than after the fact,” he said.

The American Press reported Oct. 4 that 11 Moss Regional employees will be laid off by Oct. 15. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration decided to cut the LSU Health Care System budget by $210 million.

“The whole general way this has come down is frustrating to me as a legislator,” Geymann said. “We haven’t been involved in the decision making as to where the cuts would take place.”

Surplus money

Geymann said he believes the $130 million in surplus money should be put back into the state’s “rainy day” fund, even though members of the Jindal administration believe it should be used elsewhere.

“It’s crystal clear that money should be deposited into that account,” he said.

Last month, Greg Albrecht, chief economist for the Legislative Fiscal Office, said the surplus for the fiscal year that ended June 30 happened largely because business tax collections were higher than expected.

Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater said he wants to use the money to offset cuts to the state’s Medicaid program, in an effort to prevent more cuts to the LSU health system.

But a law passed during the recent legislative session requires the money to go into the “rainy day” fund to pay back money that was used to fund a deficit from last year. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, and it requires using up to $204.7 million to replenish the fund.

Fannin, who heads the House Appropriations Committee, said the money should go back into the fund. But the Jindal administration argues that the law applies to money acknowledged before the fiscal year ended.

Special session

Geymann said he supports the November special session proposed by Rep. Jerome “Dee” Richard, I-Thibodaux, despite opposition from House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, and Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego.

The proposal requires backing from 35 House members and 13 senators. That would lead to a formal petitioning of the Legislature. It would then require a majority in each chamber — 53 House members and 20 in the Senate — to call a special session.

If approved, the session would begin Nov. 26 and could last up to 15 days.

Posted By: Ernest {woot} Wooton On: 10/13/2012

Title: citizen

Keep fighting---- transparency in budget, and executive branch have been necessary for years. But 'Lil Bobby does not seem to think transparency or the truth apply to his administration. Going to be tough,but hopefully some of your peers will grow some bal----- will realize the need to at least put the truth { tough word } before the public and allow them to decide. Hopefully the public will realize they can think for themselves-----and that budgetary decisions need not be made solely by the administration. Goooooo Geyman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted By: J. Dexter Smith On: 10/12/2012

Title: Retiree

The only problem with a rainy day fund in Louisiana is that we get approximately 5 feet of rain per year.

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