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Jindal budget anticipates LSU hospital savings

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 21, 2013 at 7:31 pm •  Published: February 21, 2013

The state would need another $1.3 billion above its estimated income to maintain existing programs and services in the fiscal year beginning July 1, while also accounting for inflation, budget analysts say.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Fannin said Thursday he was encouraged about coping with the shortfall after getting a sneak peek at Jindal's spending recommendations.

"We still have tremendous issues, but I feel better, at least at this point, about the budget than I felt at this point last year," Fannin, D-Jonesboro, said in an interview.

He said he doesn't yet know the details of where cuts will fall — and he acknowledges that could change his perspective as legislative budget analysts comb through the plans.

"I'm two weeks away from knowing what's really in it," Fannin said.

The committee chairman said the budget proposal anticipates using the savings from a possible refinancing of the state's tobacco settlement to plug holes. The Jindal administration has estimated such a refinancing, which hasn't yet been approved, could generate as much as $85 million in savings.

As always, the budget proposal contains one-time, piecemeal funding to pay for ongoing state government programs and services, Fannin said.

That will fuel continued criticism from a group of House Republicans who complain the use of money that doesn't reappear year after year perpetuates a cycle of ongoing financial problems for the state, when the dollars fall away and need to be replaced.