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Published in Print: February 24, 2016, as State of the States

State of the States: Louisiana

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Here are summaries of recent annual addresses by governors around the country.

LOUISIANA
Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) • Feb. 12

With Louisiana facing a $940 million deficit this fiscal year and a shortfall of nearly $2 billion next year, the freshman governor used his first State of the State speech to focus on steps to put the state’s finances back on track and outline the consequences of not doing so.

While Edwards did not address K-12 education, he said last month that without long-term solutions to the deficit, public schools and higher education faced severe cuts.

Without legislative action, higher education could see $42 million in cuts, he said in his speech to state lawmakers. The Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, or TOPS, a scholarship program for residents who attend select Louisiana colleges and technical schools, could lose $28 million, meaning that students already in the program are in danger of losing their scholarships, and fewer high school students would receive scholarships going forward.

The Pennington Biomedical Research Center could close April 1, Edwards said, and Louisiana State University’s main campus in Baton Rouge would run out money for payroll after April 30. Community and technical colleges would also be affected, he said. The future of college football also hangs in the balance.

Edwards proposed a combination of cuts and tax increases to deal with the shortfall, including adding a one-penny sales tax to the state’s 4 percent sales tax on a temporary basis.

—Denisa R. Superville

Vol. 35, Issue 22, Page 23

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