By Allie Doise, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation
It’s a new year, but the state budget deficit is still a problem for the Louisiana Legislature.
The Louisiana Legislature officially began a special session Monday to address the midyear budget hole of $304 million. Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation legislative specialist, Joe Mapes said both the Republicans and Democrats have been discussing plans to correct this deficit.
“One idea proposed on the governor’s side is to get $120 million of the ‘rainy day fund’, which the Republicans oppose,” Mapes said. “On the Republican side, one idea is to cut the Department of Health and Hospitals.”
However, Mapes said he is hopeful farmers and ranchers will be spared during cuts made this session.
“It seems that we’re at a stalemate with the governor not wanting to make substantive cuts to any of the departments that he sees as critical,” Mapes said. “And Farm Bureau and the farmers and ranchers are somewhere in the middle of that.”
At this point is appears that increasing agricultural fees is not on the legislature’s agenda, but that could pop up at any time, said State Representative Clay Schexnayder who chairs the House agriculture committee.
“Fees are something that the governor is not looking into right now, but it’s always possible that something could pop up throughout this special session,” said Schexnayder. “We have to be involved in that watching out for agriculture, doing the things that we need to do to keep agriculture safe and the consumer safe.”
The special session will end on February 22nd.