Should lawmakers raid state's Rainy Day Fund?

by Brandon Richards bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC-TV) – Monday marks two weeks since state lawmakers went into session.

No surprise, priority number one for legislators is balancing the state's budget. It is a task made much more difficult since the state is facing a projected $1 billion shortfall.

Some lawmakers are now toying with the idea of raiding the state's so-called Rainy Day Fund. Governor Bobby Jindal supports such a move, however two Lake Area lawmakers, a Republican and Democrat, think it is a bad idea.

"I'm very conservative on that issue," explained Rep. Brett Geymann (R-District 35). "I'm going  to look very hard at that, but it would be something that I think I would not be willing to do necessarily unless there's just no other alternative.'

State Senator Willie Mount (D-District 27) points to others states facing similar fiscal crises as the reason she does not support the idea of borrowing from the Rainy Day Fund or other trust funds.

"There are many, many states who have already not only gone into their trust funds but literally spent their trust funds on everyday, recurring expenses," said Sen. Mount. "That is not something I'd like to see us do"

Mount said lawmakers need to examine what got the state in this situation in the first place and take action to make sure it does not happen again in the future.

Both Mount and Geymann describe the two weeks of session so far as stressful and tense.

"This [session] in particular maybe is a little bit more heightened or stressful because of our budget," said Mount.

"There's a little bit of tension among the members mainly because of the budget deficit, the fact that we're going to have to make some very difficult decisions," said Geymann.

If lawmakers do decide to borrow from the Rainy Day Fund, they would only be allowed to take $172 million for the current fiscal year. Lawmakers would have to approve legislation to increase that amount for upcoming fiscal years.

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