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Jun 14, 2010 8:16 PM by Chris Welty

Senate to Account for Third Deficit in Budget

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana doesn't officially have a
third budget deficit this year, but senators said Monday they will
propose rebalancing the budget to account for economists'
predictions of another drop in state income.
Economists last week projected the state will end this year with
at least a $261 million deficit. But House Speaker Jim Tucker
refused to boost the current year deficit projection officially
from $319 million to more than $580 million, saying that move would
be premature.
Senate Finance Chairman Mike Michot said even without the formal
revision, his committee will work to rebalance this year's budget
under the assumption of a $580 million deficit. Michot,
R-Lafayette, said the state shouldn't end the fiscal year on June
30 with a deficit.
"We feel like it's the responsible thing to do to address the
deficit now," he said.
The Senate committee is scheduled to release its budget plans
Tuesday, reworking House-passed budget bills for this year and for
the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1.
Tucker, R-Terrytown, doesn't want to address the third and
latest deficit now, arguing the revenue figures are uncertain and
lawmakers would be better equipped to deal with the new deficit in
the fall.
He stalled action of the state income forecasting panel, the
Revenue Estimating Conference, on the new deficit projections last
week. The four-member panel needs a unanimous vote to revise the
estimates, and Tucker refused to join the other three members in
approving the revision.
If Tucker won't recognize the new deficit, lawmakers aren't
obligated to deal with it before they adjourn June 21. Senate
leaders and Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis, the
governor's top fiscal analyst, have called the move irresponsible.

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