Tell lawmakers: Make smart budget choices for Louisiana

Use the state's Rainy Day Fund

Avoid cuts to public education

Watch Gov. John Bel Edwards' testimony to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget – click here.

Our state is facing a mid-year budget crisis. Revenues are $304 million short of what is needed for a balanced budget. By law, this must be corrected before the 2016-17 fiscal year ends on June 30.

Some have proposed fixing the problem by simply cutting spending. That could cut public education’s Minimum Foundation Program by $29 million, impacting special services to disabled children, Pre-K funding, after school programs and more. It would also cause devastating cuts to higher education, health care and other public services.

Gov. John Bel Edwards is calling a special session for February 13-22, giving legislators and the public an opportunity to weigh in on the important choices that must be made.

The governor’s plan, released on February 6, does not call for new taxes, but would allow increases to some fees to be determined by the legislature.

He proposes spending $119 million from the state’s $359 million “rainy day fund” to help balance the budget. That is a savings account funded with mineral revenues. It exists to help stabilize the budget during tough financial times – like this one.

The remaining cuts would still be painful, the governor said, but not as bad. His plan would preserve public education, family services and the department of corrections.

Making these changes now would give lawmakers better options in the regular legislative session that opens in April.

Some lawmakers oppose the governor’s plan, saying the “rainy day fund” should not be tapped. This fund was created specifically for balancing the budget in the event of a deficit.

The Louisiana Federation of Teachers supports the governor’s balanced, responsible approach to this crisis. Any other response would be an unnecessary hardship on working families and the children attending public schools in Louisiana.

Please send a message. Tell lawmakers that you support Gov. Edwards’ plan. In his words, we should use a scalpel and not a sledge hammer to resolve this crisis.