BATON ROUGE, La., Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Fiscal conservatives in the Louisiana Legislature are questioning fellow Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal's math in the state's budget.
The group, mostly Republicans referred to as the "fiscal hawks," led by Louisiana Rep. Kirk Talbot, called Jindal's budget a "revenue shell game" and questioned whether the governor made overly optimistic projections of state revenue and the use of "one-time money" to pay for recurring expenses as a way to artificially balance the books. They requested the state's attorney general weigh in on the legality of such budgeting tactics in the cash-strapped state.
"If they rule that we're wrong, at least we know," Talbot told The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. "At least we won't have to keep having the same conversation back and forth every single time like we have for the last four years."
One of the issues revolves around the sale or lease of New Orleans Adolescent Hospital, which Jindal expects to bring $35 million. Talbot and the fiscal hawks said "no one actually expects" that to happen.
The group said the hospital sale and other revenue-enhancements in the budget are "essentially fictional."
A Jindal spokeswoman defended the budget, which lawmakers passed earlier this year.
"The budget that was passed by the Legislature is constitutional, doesn't spend more dollars than the state takes in, and protects higher education and health care services," spokeswoman Shannon Bates said. "It doesn't make sense to make unnecessary cuts to healthcare and higher education."