This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysis of states’ revenue and budgets during the pandemic.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, and state lawmakers started 2020 by expecting a multimillion-dollar budget surplus, but the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic and plunging oil prices took a $900 million bite out of state revenue projections.
In Louisiana’s $34 billion state budget, lawmakers minimized cuts to agencies and programs by using hundreds of millions of one-time coronavirus relief dollars from the federal government. They did need to make cutbacks to hospitals and colleges, which received large sums of direct federal aid but have incurred even larger expenses because of COVID-19.
Edwards said the final budget was reasonable but expressed concern that Republicans, who make up the majority of the legislature, also passed extensive tax breaks for businesses, which could further minimize state revenue going forward.
“We did an awful lot of work over the first four years to restore sanity to the fiscal situation in the state of Louisiana,” Edwards said at his end-of-session news conference. “You don’t want to go back to the days we just came out of.”
Republican legislative leaders said that if given time, the tax breaks will pay for themselves by stimulating the economy.