When Louisiana families sit down at their kitchen tables to craft their household budgets, they do so by basing their numbers off responsible estimates when comparing their income to their expenses. During times of financial hardships, our families take steps to rein in spending and plan responsibly for future expenses. This is not the case when it comes to how our state currently approaches its budgeting. Our current expenditure limit grows exponentially, with no regard to Louisiana’s economic conditions. If passed on Nov. 3, Constitutional Amendment 4 will help address this issue.
Let’s look to recent history as an example of the failings of the current process. Over the last several years, Louisiana’s general fund has grown by 12%. Meanwhile, we’ve continued seeing our population decrease, as Louisianians seek jobs and opportunities in friendlier neighboring states, and our economy has remained flat at best.
Under the current system, Louisiana’s ability to spend more dollars from year to year grows, even during economic downturns like the one we are experiencing today. This spending approach disregards how the economy is performing and makes it more difficult to save and plan for the future. We must change this, so we can bring stability and predictability to our budgeting and spending processes.
Louisiana simply can’t afford to continue down this antiquated, status quo path to budgeting, which has led us lurching from one fiscal cliff to another. That’s why Amendment 4 is so important. It will base spending limits on important indicators like the growth of our state’s economy. It is common sense to say that you shouldn’t spend more than you take in.
In addition to making spending more reliable and accountable to taxpayers, Amendment 4 will also make Louisiana more inviting to entrepreneurs seeking new investments. By adding predictability to our budget process, we will encourage job growth that provides a better life and strengthens Louisiana working families.
As stated above, Amendment 4 will also help us ensure our state government has the ability to responsibly plan for the future and prioritize funding where it’s truly needed. With all the hardships we’ve faced this year, from COVID-19 to hurricanes Delta and Laura, we need to do everything we can to make Louisiana better prepared for the next time disaster strikes. Amendment 4 will help us accomplish this while also supporting the return of our economy.
Prior to the state’s shutdown due to COVID-19, I filed this bipartisan legislation. It passed with no opposition from either side of the political aisle. The Legislature knew it was important then, and strongly believes it’s even more important now. We must put measures in place to help our government live within its means. The many uncertainties we’re facing today make accurately planning for the future more important than ever.
This is a rare opportunity to modernize our outdated approach to spending and make government more accountable.