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State agencies tighten belts, make $200 million in cuts

State agencies tighten belts, make $200 million in cuts
Louisiana Politics
Friday, December 16, 2011 - 5:24pm

Lots of state agencies are tightening their belts tonight after a state panel orders almost $200 million in cuts.

The cuts come after word that revenue for the state might not be as high as expected.

Just some of the agencies making the cuts are the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the Department of Transportation and Developments, the Department of Public Safety, which includes the Louisiana State Police, and the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

GOHSEP says they're cutting a little more than $200 thousand from their budget. They say they plan to be getting rid of several contracts and services that essentially do the same thing. They’re also dropping notification services that can be handled by the National Weather Service and the Division of Administration.

No jobs will be lost.

The new director, Kevin Davis, these cuts will help the agency be more efficient without jeopardizing safety.

Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation and Development says they're moving about $24 million from a trust fund to the general fund. That means there won't be an impact on any current or future construction projects.

The agency says they will also save money through employee attrition, cutting back on overtime, and reviewing all professional contracts.

DOTD also says this is a good way to streamline the entire agency.

The Department of Public Safety says they're planning to shave a little more than $2 million from the budget.

State Police Colonel Mike Edmonson says they plan to get that done mostly through hiring freezes. He says there won't be any impact to safety or services, and Trooper will still be out in full force all over the state.

Edmonson says the rest of the $2 million came from cutting back on other items in the budget in a way that won't impact many positions.

The Department of Health and Hospitals plans to make spending cuts for next years budget totaling round $64 million in savings.

The plan would cut two facilities: one in Leesville and one in Greenwell Springs. That means close to 90 people will lose their jobs.

Patients at these facilities will move to other state campuses.

Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein says the cuts will not affect provider rates, reduce eligibility or cut benefits.

"So we used the degree possible where ever we could to belt tighten,” Greenstein said. “In our facilities close down facilities that we could provide the same level of services or better else where and look at all the financial transactions."

Greenstein says workers can expect to see those changes begin as early as March of next year.

The Department of Natural Resources is cutting a little more than $80 thousand. They plan to do that by cut cutting one position and putting a hiring freeze in place.

The Department of Corrections is axing more than $6 million from its budget.

Several positions are being cut, including 13 vacant jobs.

They will also up the fee on probation and parole cases by $10.

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