Gov. Bobby Jindal held a press conference yesterday to address excess revenues the state is expected to see, largely tied to sky-high oil prices. Like a parent withholding dessert, Jindal preached fiscal restraint and responsibility to lawmakers. "On Friday, the Revenue Estimating Conference is expected to announce that we have a substantial amount of additional money available,” Jindal said. “I want to be clear: when this announcement is made – our absolute, number one, top priority must be to continue to pay down our state’s current $420 million reliance on one-time revenues for recurring expenses.”
Jindal compared the budget he inherited, which uses $800 million in one-time funds for recurring expenditures, to “using your credit card to pay your mortgage.” He urged lawmakers to work toward building a state surplus with any additional one-time funds. “Building up a surplus for our state is a sign of a healthy budget,” he said. “Just like when a family works to build up savings for their own household. Savings will help us fund our state’s priorities and also be available for any unanticipated needs that may arise in the future.”
Meanwhile, state lawmakers already have formed their own proposals for spending any surplus funds, including a bill by a coalition of Acadiana legislators to refund any surplus to taxpayers. Another bill currently pending in the state House would do away with the state’s personal income tax – a bill that would eliminate 30 percent of the state’s revenue.