New year, same gridlock: State panel again rejects revenue forecast

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BATON ROUGE, La. (WVLA/WGMB) — Louisiana’s governor will present a new budget Friday amid a familiar trend: an income forecasting panel failing to recognize revenue.

The state cannot spend funds not recognized by the Revenue Estimating Conference. On Friday, the four-member panel again rejected recommendations by two nonpartisan economists. Senate President Page Cortez and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, two Republicans appointed to their roles last month, and independent economist Stephen Barnes declined to raise the forecast as presented.

The hesitation echoes the deadlocks of last year, when now-former House Speaker Taylor Barras questioned revenue estimates.

“We have multiple times been aggressive with our estimates only to come back half way through the year and have to start midyear budget cuts,” Barras said in an interview last year. “That’s what I was hoping to avoid.”

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards had voiced hope that under new legislative leadership, the income forecasting panel would accept the recommendations from state economists.

“It is my hope that Senate President Page Cortez and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder will act in the near future to approve a forecast by one of the state’s two economists that will allow us to have a fruitful discussion of our spending priorities,” the governor said in a statement Friday.

The Revenue Estimating Conference still has a few chances to update its projections. The new fiscal year takes effect July 1.

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