Budget Reform Coalition releases package - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Budget Reform Coalition releases legislative package

BATON ROUGE, LA (KPLC) -

It seems higher education and healthcare are the areas on the chopping block when state legislators need to make cuts to balance the budget. That could change if a coalition of lawmakers, headed by State Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Moss Bluff, succeed in passing a reform package they'll introduce in the upcoming session.

"We drafted a package of legislation that we hope to propose in the spring such that will change the way we do the budget process focused on the fundamentals and the mechanics of how we do the process and it's not focused on any partisan issue. It's something we believe appeals to both sides," Geymann said.

Geymann said their reforms aim to create more transparency in the process, in part by making sure certain budget decisions are made earlier rather than in the eleventh hour.

"We don't think we should be voting on budget the last day of session or the last two days of session," he said.

The package includes constitutional amendments and a regular review of expenses required by state laws.

"So, what we're proposing is that we open up the process, put everything on the table that's not constitutionally protected. We may be able to reduce funding to another area that's not as important as higher education and health care and offset some of those cuts," Geymann said.

Other members of the SWLA delegation applaud the efforts of Geymann and the budget reform coalition. Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, especially  favors protecting higher education.

"$489 million of cuts overall to higher education. At McNeese University, about $25 million in cuts in the last five years and that has got to come to an end," Johns said. 

Rep. Mike Danahay, D-Sulphur, said the coalition needs to be commended.

"I think sometimes what happens is we get rushed at the end of the session to be able to get a budget in place and sometimes things are overlooked in that process. And I think this legislation will help in stretching out that process," Danahay said.

The Budget Reform Coalition plans a campaign across the state and online events to present their package.

To read the text of the proposals, click here.

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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