BATON ROUGE - Gov. Bobby Jindal Tuesday announced $341 million in administration proposed mid-year budget cuts that would meet Louisiana’s projected revenue shortfall.


BATON ROUGE - Gov. Bobby Jindal Tuesday announced $341 million in administration proposed mid-year budget cuts that would meet Louisiana’s projected revenue shortfall.
Jindal will by executive order unilaterally cut  3 percent, or $163 million, from the current budget, then request an additional $178 million in cuts be approved by the Joint Legislative Committee at its Jan. 9 meeting.
Trimming the total budget by $341 million would eliminate the state deficit and balance the budget as required by state law.
In a release Jindal said no state is immune to the “national economic downturn.” The “only three possible solutions” in this situation are going into debt, raising taxes, or “tighten our belt and cut spending.”
He compared his approach to that of a small business or family in Louisiana that would tighten its belts in the face of economic difficulty.
Jindal called eliminating the $341 million deficit the first step in a move to address a much larger projected shortfall in the 2010 fiscal year.
Senate President Joel Chaisson in statement praised the governor for quick action addressing the shortfall called for approval of the additional $178 million in cuts.
Rather than going into a special session, the legislature should approve the additional cuts and begin working on next year’s projected $2 billion shortfall, Chaisson said.
Early reports of a possible $160 million in cuts to the Department of Health and Hospitals and $109 from higher education budgets by the administration proved overstated. DHH and higher education will instead be targeted for $118 million and  $55.2 million in cuts, respectively.
Sorrento’s River Parishes Community College is among state and community and technical colleges that initially faced a $14.18 million cutback, but were spared by the nearly 50 percent reduction in proposed higher education cutbacks.
Among cutbacks in the Joint Legislative Committee will consider are $2,732,951 at the Department of Agriculture and Forestry, $1,388,370 at the Office of the Attorney General, and $11,032,707 at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel.
The Department of Economic Development faces $1,005,750 in proposed cutbacks, and the Department of Education $11,146,641 including $1,599,085 to be saved by a hiring freeze.
The Department of Environmental Quality would be cutback $1,815,028, and the Department of Natural Resources $1,959,852. The Department of Public Safety faces cuts of $5,840,693, and the Department of Revenue $3,393,660.
The Department of Social Services would be cutback $20,445,097.
The Department of Transportation faces $6,806,761 in cutbacks, and the Department of Veterans Affairs $1,454,402.
The Administration Division would be cutback $4,683,189, including a more than $3 million savings from a hiring freeze.
The Lt. Governor’s office faces a $5,627,799 cutback, most of which will come from reductions in the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.
Homeland Security faces a $591,000 cut, and the Louisiana Workforce Commission $1,017,500.
The Office of Juvenile Justice faces $11,744,321 in cuts.