Some of the reasons for today’s budget deficit have been in plain sight for a long time.
The new Democratic governor pointed out some of them to lawmakers the other day in a speech to the joint House and Senate.
But there has not yet been a full accounting of the problem. Why? Because some of the new costs are inevitably going to be projections that will change, but should be reasonably accounted for in the new budget; we won’t know how much until some time has passed.
One of those fiscal land mines left for Gov. John Bel Edwards by former Gov. Bobby Jindal was a gap in Medicaid services; the new administration said the old one “did not properly budget for the increase in the number of people who would use Medicaid — they ignored the increase for the first time ever since the Medicaid program began.”
That is not related to expanding Medicaid eligibility, but the day-in, day-out costs of providing medical services to the indigent. Expanding Medicaid eligibility saves the state money in the next fiscal year, because of a higher federal match under the Affordable Care Act.
It was Jindal’s negligence in the ordinary course of doing business that fueled much of today’s crisis.