Friday, March 17, 2006
by Dan Juneau
As required by law, the governor recently submitted her executive budget for Fiscal Year (FY) `07 in advance of the Regular Session. The $20-plus billion budget proposal turned some heads due to its size and the amount of new spending it contains.
The governor is proposing hefty increases in both education and health care. She is budgeting approximately $105 million for a K-12 teacher pay raise, $90 million for increased spending in higher education (including faculty pay raises), and over $400 million in increased Medicaid spending (over levels contained in the current budget).
The FY `07 budget will undoubtedly be the most controversial issue in the upcoming Regular Session-and it should be. Many taxpayers are already shaking their heads about the size of the proposed budget. But the major issue that the Legislature needs to address is the stability of the revenues that underpin a budget post-disaster that is larger than the one we operated under pre-disaster.
The governor has justified her proposed budget by saying that we should be optimistic about the economy. There is nothing wrong with spouting economic optimism, but when it comes to budgeting, the Legislature would be wise to err on the side of caution.