BATON ROUGE,LA — "Daunting task. Some tough times ahead," says Democratic Representative Ted James of Baton Rouge.
James is afraid he and his colleagues will have to cut higher education and health care to come up with $211 million.
"We have a very, very, very horrible situation when it comes to the budget...It's a very, very depressing time for the state," says James.
That hole is because state income taxes didn't return as much cash as expected. And this is just the beginning. Already the state is having to cut $300 million from next year's budget. Paul Rainwater is the Commissioner of Administration for Louisiana. He says the answer is streamlining government.
"As an administration we've looked at reducing the number of positions to create a more sustainable government and we'll continue to do that," says Rainwater.
According to Rainwater this will enable the administration to balance the budget while not raising taxes. And it won't affect the vital parts of either higher education or health care.
"In health care we'll work very closely to make sure that there's a safety net there to protect our most critical services...Our focus on higher education has always been the classroom to look at ways to reduce costs, administratinve costs at the management level, but to make sure you focus the dollars on the classroom," 'says Rainwater.
James worries cuts alone won't solve Louisiana's financial crisis.
"I understand the rhetoric from the other side of the aisle, but we have a revenue problem in Louisiana. There's no way we can continue to operate as a state if we continue to cut," says James.