Yet another legislative session is ending with a House and Senate budget standoff over fiscal practices and state spending.
The heart of the issue is the use of nonrecurring revenues for recurring expenditures, which would certainly violate Sarbanes-Oxley if the state were a publicly traded private enterprise, but doesn’t apparently violate the Louisiana Constitution. Most of us are not necessarily against squeezing out revenues during a difficult year or two, but continual use of nonrecurring and contingent revenues is certainly not a sound budget practice.
That’s why hopefully the Senate will agree to the House version HB 437, which settles the yearly recurring vs. nonrecurring revenue spat by providing that the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) report shall include a forecast of all funds as defined in Art. VII, Sec. 10 (J) of the Const. of La., with an estimate of money available for appropriation from each dedicated fund. In addition, the proposed law also provides that the REC may designate as nonrecurring, money available for appropriation from any source that is defined in law as nonrecurring.
By placing this important function in the hands of the constitutionally created REC, which requires the input of an economist, we have the best shot at responsible budget practices for years to come.
That and reducing the expenditure of one time money to under next year’s surplus (the cap) could avoid a special session.
Lets see what happens.