Jindal vows to shrink budget gap

By Brandon Richards- bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC-TV) – Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said he will be "aggressive in shrinking the size" of next year's $1.6 billion budget shortfall.

Jindal made the comments Sunday in Lake Charles, where he was at Book-A-Million signing copies of his book, "Leadership and Crisis."

Last week, Jindal started publicly brainstorming ideas to help the state solve its budget crisis.

While nothing is final, the governor has tossed around the idea of selling state buildings and land, which could save the state $13 million, privatizing a state employee health plan, which could save $100 million or even taking a percentage of growth from future lottery proceeds, which could net the state $250 million.

The governor has also suggested the possibility of privatizing two state prisons, including the Allen Correctional Center in Allen Parish.

The governor's ideas would only make-up for about half of the projected shortfall.

"Let's be very clear, we're going to be very aggressive in shrinking the size of that $1.6 billion gap," declared Jindal. "We know we're still going to have to make reductions, even after we pursue these creative ideas."

One idea Jindal said is not on the table is the possibility of reducing or ending tax breaks, which some lawmakers say would save the state more money than what the governor has proposed.

"We're not going to raise taxes," said Jindal. "There are those who don't agree with us, who would rather us raise taxes. Some senators have already talked about raising income taxes, raising taxes on particular products. We don't believe in that. We think that would be the wrong thing to do."

On Thursday, Jindal met with legislative leaders at the governor's mansion to talk about his ideas.

The governor will submit his budget proposal to the legislature when the next session starts in March.

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