Comprehensive fiscal reform in Louisiana must address the “expenditure straightjacket” in the state’s budget and loosen spending restrictions, according to a Baton Rouge Area Chamber public policy commentary issued this morning about the state government budget.
The BRAC commentary also calls on the leading candidates running for governor—all of whom have said they’d call lawmakers for a special session at the start of next year to consider fiscal reform—to outline what exactly their plans for fiscal reform include.
“…With more than a month gone by since the session ended, few details have emerged from either legislative or gubernatorial candidates about what topics would be addressed in the special session or what specific solutions would be pursued,” the commentary reads. “It’s not too soon, or unreasonable, for voters to call upon candidates to clearly state what, exactly, will be included in the ‘call.’”
BRAC says most of the focus on fiscal reform discussion during this year’s focused on the revenue side of the equation—dealing with tax expenditures in the form of credits, exemptions, exclusions and rebates—and rightfully so, it adds.
“However, in order for fiscal reform efforts to be truly comprehensive, similar focus needs to be devoted to the expenditure side of the equation as well—dealing with the myriad of non-discretionary restrictions, mandates and spending dedications—the ‘expenditure straightjacket’ that reduces budgetary flexibility and hinders true prioritization in funding decisions.”
Among BRAC’s 12 recommendations to candidates to address the issue are:
- Pledge that any special legislative session on fiscal reform will address the spending side of the balance sheet.
- Upon election, immediately establish a special task force to examine spending issues and develop recommendations in time for the special session.
- Sunset all non-constitutional statutory dedicated spending by a specific date and abide by them.
- Conduct an annual review of spending dedications, including an examination of funds with recurring overcollections, to identify additional opportunities to reduce dedicated funding.
“This report provides deeper, historical analysis of why the state budget is so tied up in knots that priorities like health care, higher education and transportation often cannot even be prioritized,” BRAC President and CEO Adam Knapp says in a prepared statement. “It also offers substantive solutions for loosening structural restrictions to improve how government spends the taxpayer dollars it already receives.”
See the complete BRAC commentary, which includes all 12 of its recommendations for candidates.