BUDGET REFORM COALITION RELEASES PACKAGE.
January 29, 2013-- 8:36 PM CDT
Draft Package Focuses on Constitutionality, Transparency and Budget Priorities.
(Lake Charles) The Budget Reform Campaign, founded by a coalition of fiscally conservative state legislators, and Chaired by State Representative Brett Geymann (R - Lake Charles) has published a draft reform package of Constitutional Amendments and bills to be introduced in the legislative session that begins April 8th, 2013.
“We are proud to present our initial draft of budget reforms to address key elements of the budget process” said Representative Brett Geymann. “We are entering the second phase of our effort to establish a broad-based, transparent dialogue on budget issues, while we continue to share our work with stakeholders, and improve our package with input from civic, business and political leaders, and the general public ” Geymann said. “I want to thank my colleagues who have worked so hard and continue to take time away from their families and businesses to support this effort for real reform” Geymann continued. “We are committed to fixing the broken budget process that results in devastating mid-year and year-end budget cuts. We are committed to protecting core priorities like healthcare and higher education that are so important to our people and our State” Geymann concluded.
The package of Constitutional Amendments and reform bills consists of proposals to address reform issues at the core of the Campaign’s mission:
- Constitutionality. A proposed Constitutional Amendment regarding budget controls restores Constitutional budgeting by banning appropriations of funds not included in the official revenue forecast; that exceed the official forecast; that are contingent, or that use non-recurring funds on recurring expenses. Only revenue that has been recognized by the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) as available may be appropriated. This proposed instrument addresses concerns about the Constitutionality of our current budget process while clarifying existing language.
- Transparency. Proposes constitutional amendments and statutes regarding budget procedures that clarify the timing and deadlines of the budget process, to enable a more broad-based and transparent review of the budget.
- One proposal requires House notification of Senate Amendments within 24 hours of passage, so that the House has access to Senate changes in a timely fashion.
- The House would be provided the text of Amendments 3 days prior to any House vote to allow time to thoroughly review Senate changes prior to a vote on concurrence.
- Another proposal requires final passage of the general appropriations bill about two weeks earlier in the session, to ensure a more broad-based and transparent budget process.
These proposed instruments address concerns about inadequate time for proper deliberation and the need for more transparent review in the waning days of legislative sessions.
- Budget Priorities. A proposed Constitutional Amendment helps protect higher education and healthcare. This proposal requires that if the appropriations bill contains funding for higher education and healthcare at a level lower than the previous year, the bill would be split into non-discretionary and discretionary appropriation bills that would be voted on separately. This proposed instrument would help ensure that core priorities are funded first, and create a transparent mechanism for reviewing statutorily dedicated expenditures on an ongoing basis. This instrument requires that spending due to constitutional or other mandates be considered in a separate appropriations bill from spending that is not required to be funded if higher education and healthcare are reduced.
State Representative Lance Harris (R – Alexandria), a Charter Member of the Coalition believes that these core reforms are a necessary precursor to any significant change in the way Louisiana takes in revenue. “It is critical that we fix the way we are putting together our budget before we make major changes in how we take in revenue” said Representative Harris. “We keep pouring water into our bucket year after year, but it’s clear now that there is a hole in our bucket” Representative Harris said. “Before we make changes to where we get the water, it would make a whole lot of sense to fix the bucket first” Representative Harris continued. “We are looking forward to working closely with legislative leadership and the Administration to make sure this legislative session addresses the root causes of our budget crisis” Representative Harris concluded.
The full texts of these proposals are published online at LABUDGETREFORM.COM.
The Campaign will tour the state to present the package to budget stakeholders, to answer questions, receive input from stakeholders and revise the package accordingly. The Campaign also expects that the package will include additional proposals resulting from consulting with legislators, leadership, the Administration, and the public input process. The Campaign will hold several online events to allow statewide input. All business and civic leaders, budget stakeholders and the general public are encouraged to participate in this process – online and in person.(C) THE DEAD PELICAN 2013