Hospital funding still not secure

Published 9:30 am Monday, June 13, 2016

Though state senators remained in session Friday at the end of the first week of the special session, members of the House of Representatives had Friday off.

State Rep. Malinda White said the House has voted its budget package to the Senate Thursday, although the struggle to balance the budget is far from over.

“Everything is in process at this point,” said White.

As lawmakers struggle to cover a $600 million deficit facing the state, White and her colleague in the Senate, Sen. Beth Mizell, will aim to save state funding to hospitals. As it stands, Our Lady of the Angels is facing a big budget cut from the state, and White points out if the funding isn’t restored it could threaten federal match dollars, too.

“For every state dollar, there are $2 dollars in matching federal money,” she said.

White said it’s not yet clear whether the state hospital funding will be restored after it took a hit to the tune of $100 million at the end of the regular session. Now that the House’s proposed spending bill is in the Senate, that body can impose its discretion.

What the House sent the Senate didn’t raise taxes to the level Gov. Jon Bel Edwards had hoped. However, White said she’s proud of what her colleagues did, in particular she approved shoring up some capitol gains returns she didn’t believe were earned.

White said the current capitol gains taxes have a loophole that rewards brand new Louisiana companies the same as longtime Louisiana companies. Under proposed legislation, Louisiana-based companies would get gradually more of their capitol gains back the longer they remained in Louisiana.

“So the longer you commit in business and industry in Louisiana, the higher percentage of your capitol gains you get back, so it will encourage long-term investment,” she said.

But, as with the hospital funding, this will likely not be the last taxpayers will hear of state tax policy as the special session draws into a second week next week.

In the meantime, White said she was happy to have a day off. Lawmakers had worked through the Memorial Day weekend and this session ranks as one of the longest on record.

White, who is in her freshman year, said she can feel it.

“We’ve been there  along time, that’s what it feels like,” she said.