The fiscal year ended Monday, and fiscal 2014 is history. Except that the Jindal administration, having based its so-called balanced budgets on all sorts of gimmicks — property sales, advanced lease payments on hospitals, shuffling money from this fund to that — was about $100 million short of paying last fiscal year’s bills.
That counts a $70 million short-term loan from other state funds in the Treasury, arranged by Treasurer John N. Kennedy to keep the state from embarrassment earlier this spring. The state Division of Administration said it is paying back that loan.
Much of the piecemeal funding was propping up the state’s public colleges and universities. Higher education received the loans from the Treasury when money didn’t come in fast enough to pay bills.
In fact, in a fiscally responsible administration, that official version of a payday loan would never have been incurred.
The administration’s top budget official is Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols. Don’t worry, she says, all the money will be available, just not on the ordinary — and we believe, fiscally responsible — schedule that the taxpayers were led to expect when the governor signed the 2014 budget last year.
As Nichols noted, the fiscal year doesn’t officially close for accounting purposes until Aug. 14, allowing plenty of time for dollars to arrive. “Bottom line: Fiscal year 2014 is fully funded. Any speculation to the contrary has no basis in fact,” Nichols said in a prepared statement.
We hope that she is correct, but we agree with Kennedy: “This is a hell of way to run a railroad.”