Lawmakers want better fiscal review process

by Jeremy Alford, LaPolitics

State Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks

The chairman of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee said he is considering drafting legislation that would apply additional layers of scrutiny to the fiscal review process used for laws passed by the Louisiana Legislature.

When a bill is introduced in the House or Senate that could result in new state spending or a loss of money, the Legislative Fiscal Office prepares a sort of monetary report for that legislation.

It’s commonly referred to as a “fiscal note.”

Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, said those notes are supposed to offer lawmakers a roadmap for how much money a change in the law will cost or save the state.

Recent sessions, however, have seen lawmakers like Mills questioning the accuracy of a small number of fiscal notes.

Mills said in a recent interview that he wanted to see an intense follow-up review of fiscal notes after bills become a law and he may file legislation to accomplish that goal.

He also said he planned to meet with Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Chairman J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, to work on the concept.

He argued that a follow-up review process would give lawmakers better information to craft budgets, since revenue streams can change from year to year based on a bevy of factors.

“We should be making an assessment of that, Mills said, “because that’s why the numbers were put in the budget.”

Fiscal notes often include forecasts for several years of revenue changes, but they are rarely updated or revisited after a law goes into effect.