In preparation for the 2016 regular and special legislative sessions, Acadia Parish legislators came together in Crowley Thursday morning to discuss a variety of issues our state is facing.
Tax reform, education, and healthcare were just some of the topics discussed during the chamber’s annual breakfast.
With a $750 million deficit shortfall this fiscal year and an expected $1.9 billion shortfall for next year, legislators are looking at ways to fill the gap.
“The only way you can address a shortfall in such a short period of time is to have a funding mechanism that generates revenue every month and that’s what we’re faced with,” said State Representative, Jack Montoucet.
Montoucet said education and health care are still on the chopping block even after several years of cuts.
More cuts to higher education is an issue Natalie Harder, Chancellor at South Louisiana Community College, is worried will hurt economic development.
“We can’t continue that to climb because it makes companies not interested in coming here because they don’t believe we can educate and graduate the individuals they need for their workforce,” said Harder.
But it’s the sales tax increase that Gov. John Bel Edwards is proposing that concerns Rep. Montoucet.
“We want to place it in place to cover what we need to do now, but when that happens and it’s taken care of, it has to go away just like that sales tax did for the airport in Lafayette,” said Rep. Montoucet.
Rep. Montoucet told KLFY’s Jade Choyce that during the legislative session they also plan to look at Medicaid expansion as well as area highways that need attention.
Rep. Montoucet said they have their work cut out for them and it will be a challenge for all of Louisiana’s legislators.
One Crowley resident is just hoping that many of the state’s pressing issues gets taken care of during session, this time, around.
“Every year the legislature has been kicking the can down the road and not really addressing the issue,” explained LJ Gielen.
“We have a new governor, a whole new legislature, it’s time to address this issue and get Louisiana in the 21st century.”
The upcoming regular session is slated to begin on March 14, however, Gov. Edwards is calling a special session on February 15.