State Treasurer, former lawmaker say overspending cause of budget mess

Published: Jan. 29, 2016 at 10:04 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 29, 2016 at 9:09 PM CDT
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LOUISIANA (KPLC) - While state leaders scramble to come up with solutions to plug the state's financial hole, State Treasurer John Kennedy is quite vocal about his displeasure with the governor's plan to address Louisiana's finances.

"It would be the largest tax increase in the history of Louisiana," Kennedy said. "Everybody's saying we have a crisis. We don't have a crisis; we have a habit."

He believes the state's nasty habit of spending more than it takes in is catching up to it - something a slew of tax increases won't solve.

"We will never tax, spend and regulate ourselves out of this problem," Kennedy said. "Our spending is out of control. We got to get it under control. They can raise taxes as high as they want to and we'll still have a problem. I don't mean any disrespect, but it's the spending stupid - that's the problem."

Kennedy said his proposal is to eliminate some consulting contracts, reduce the number of classified service managers and free up statutory dedications - a plan he said will save around $750 million without raising taxes.

"I think today is the day where there's going to have to be some very very tough decisions," former State Representative Brett Geymann said.

Geymann served on the state appropriations and joint budget committees from 2010 to 2015 and is the first to admit the problem has been passed along for years.

"Although we made some significant changes to keep this from happening, we didn't make enough and therefore we are where we are today," he said. "We would use gimmicks and games and accounting tricks in order to cover that so that we could continue to have a balanced budget."

He said those types of fancy financing practices have now run its course.

"The previous administration had a tendency to just move it into the next year which is one of the things that warned about in the past but hopefully moving forward the legislature will take this problem, make the difficult decisions and solve this problem once and for all," Geymann added.

The regular legislative session is set to begin March 14, 2016.

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