DAN CLAITOR, LOUISIANA STATE SENATOR, DISCUSSES THE $1.6 BILLION GAP IN THE STATE’S BUDGET

Press Release: Legal Lines with Locke Meredith Show 122: Dan Claitor

 

Attorney Locke Meredith interviews State Senator Dan Claitor to discuss primarily issues with the Louisiana State Budget, especially the $1.6 billion gap between the amount of revenue collected by the State, and the Governor’s $26 billion budget he is proposing.

Senator Claitor explains that one recent issue in the State Senate is redistricting. This can occur every ten years when the census comes out. Because Louisiana didn’t grow as fast as other states in the U.S., we lost one position in Congress, dropping from seven to six. This means that Louisiana districts must be redrawn. This process is very complex and sensitive because there are many communities and groups of people who want to be included in certain districts, and it becomes very complicated. This redistricting also means that the Senate and the House in Louisiana are now both Republican controlled.

Once the new districts are drawn up, the Justice Department reviews them and either approves them or draws up their own plan. Two areas left to negotiate in the redistricting process are the Courts system and the BESE (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education).

Meredith and Claitor now move on to discuss the state budget. This how the budget process works: the Governor draws up the budget, then the Senate and the House each look it over, point by point, until they all reach an agreed-upon budget. The current budget proposed by the Governor’s office is $26 billion, which means a $1.6 billion deficit for the state of Louisiana. Getting rid of the $1.6 billion that is in the budget is difficult. One reason it is difficult is that 45% of the state budget is federally funded, of which there is no flexibility.

One way the state has proposed to close the $1.6 billion gap is by selling three prisons. Another way to close the gap is to merge public universities. Southern University in New Orleans has a graduation rate of between 7 and 9%, while LSU has a 68% graduation rate. UNO is one third of LSU’s as well. Merging these is tricky, and while it could save the state money, capacity is a major issue. TOPS, the scholarship program for Louisiana public universities is also facing budget cuts, meaning only the highest ACT scoring students will benefit from it.

Next Claitor discusses some of the bills he has put forth to deal with important issues in the state. One is the boundary issue in Louisiana. In Louisiana, we only have three miles of sovereign control into the gulf, unlike Florida and Texas who have nine-mile maritime limits. “Because if we’re saying, its six more miles of ocean that we have, we have six more potential miles of oil,” says Meredith. Claitor believes this would add $500 million to Louisiana.

Another issue Claitor is pushing for has to do with medical pay. This would make the medical pay portion of your insurance benefit pay directly to medical expenses and not other hidden charges during the incident.

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