Institute Outlines How A Responsible Budget Leads to Better Opportunities

New Orleans, La. (April 18, 2023)Louisianans want a brighter future filled with jobs and opportunity, and that requires a responsible state budget that holds spending in check, reduces debt, and keeps taxes low. That’s why this week the Pelican Institute for Public Policy is launching its latest effort to inform citizens about how the state is spending their money—and what leaders must do to put the state on the right course.

Today, the Pelican Institute is releasing the Citizen’s Guide to the Louisiana Budget so that every Louisianan can understand the state’s complex and growing budget, as well as the need for reform. Later this week, the Pelican Institute will publish a new analysis from Vance Ginn, Ph.D., Chief Economist at the Pelican Institute. Ginn writes about why Louisiana needs a responsible budget and explains how legislators can learn from states like Texas and Florida, which have been budgeting more responsibly over much of the last decade.

Unfortunately, Louisiana’s budget has exploded by 63 percent over the last decade, reaching $47 billion at the beginning of fiscal year 2023. The recommended budget for next year is $50 billion. As the state’s population shrinks, citizens are facing an increasing spending burden of more than $10,000 per person. That problem will be compounded as federal funds from the pandemic and other disasters runs out, leaving Louisianans to foot the bill for programs that were enacted and expanded during this time. If the state doesn’t change course, that means higher taxes and an economic environment that will drive businesses, jobs, and citizens out of the state.

“State budgets might seem boring and complicated, but a responsible budget is central to writing Louisiana’s comeback story,” said Daniel Erspamer, Chief Executive Officer of the Pelican Institute. “If we take the wrong course, we’ll burden the future with massive debt, higher taxes, and a dismal economy. Take the right course, and we’ll head toward more jobs and better opportunities. That’s why it’s so important for every citizen to understand what’s at stake in the budget.”

The Pelican Institute’s Citizen’s Guide to the Louisiana Budget offers an overview and brief history of Louisiana’s operating and capital budgets and outlines how the state can begin to create a more responsible, sustainable budget over time that remains adaptable to the needs of Louisiana.

The Citizen’s Guide shows how Louisiana’s budget has grown unsustainably over the last decade, from the expansion of Medicaid in 2016 (and the associated sales tax increase), to the influx of federal dollars due to the pandemic and multiple natural disasters. In addition to explaining the dollars and cents of the budget—and highlighting challenges that legislators face—the Citizen’s Guide makes recommendations for sound budgetary practices for the future, including limiting the growth of spending, freeing up budgetary silos, and refusing to cave to the pressure of raising taxes.

“With the state’s economy struggling and tens of thousands of Louisianans moving out of state, families and businesses are hungry for tax relief and an assurance that the state government will use tax dollars effectively. That begins with a responsible state budget,” Erspamer noted. “The Pelican Institute’s Citizen’s Guide to the Louisiana Budget makes it easy for every citizen to understand how important a responsible state budget is to Louisiana’s Comeback Agenda.”

Louisianans can read the Citizen’s Guide to the Louisiana Budget here.

Stay tuned for the Recommendations for Responsible Budgeting later this week.