With the state teetering on the brink of fiscal disaster, Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu delivered a much-needed dose of reality to members of the Press Club of Baton Rouge on Monday.
Landrieu told the press that if the state remains on its current track, this year's $1.3 billion deficit could grow to as much as $6 billion within three years. Because the state cannot adopt a deficit budget, we would have to endure cuts much more drastic than those under consideration now.
As Advocate reporter Sarah Chacko writes here, Landrieu said lawmakers should reconsider last year's elimination of the Stelly plan reforms. Those changes to the tax code slightly increased income taxes for upper income citizens. As a tradeoff, our dependence on the price of oil was finally abated.
Last year, state finances seemed rock-solid, so lawmakers repealed the Stelly plan. But with the national economy in recession and the price of oil less than half of what it was just a year ago, the move no longer seems very smart at all. The $359 million surrendered by lawmakers last year could certainly be used now.