By Gina Swanson, WDSU
With the exception of higher education and health care, most state agencies have funding that’s protected by the state constitution.
State Sen. J.P. Morrell is looking to change that. He introduced SB 196, which would “repeal certain constitutionally dedicated and protected allocations and funds.”
He believes the amendment would free up money to address the state’s $1.6 billion budget gap and ease cuts to state colleges and universities.
“The cuts to those groups would be far less devastating,” Morrell said. “We can re-establish our priorities. Those things we thought were important are not that important. Higher ed and health care are more important.”
The amendment was one of several measures discussed at a town hall meeting Wednesday.
The state’s tax credit program is also under scrutiny especially credits for the film and solar industries. Morrell said getting rid of those programs would not go far enough to close the budget gap. He believes all the tax incentives should be on the table when it comes to balancing the budget.
From opening gavel, it’s set to be an action-packed session in Baton Rouge next week as lawmakers take up a range of issues. Morrell is also proposing a comprehensive measure to deal with sexual assault cases that includes post-certified training for all police officers in the state.
“In many departments across the state no one is adequately trained on how to deal with a sexual assault case. It’s really basic training that most departments should do but they don’t do because it’s not required,” Morrell said.