State Fiscal Briefs

June 2022

Looking for Louisiana data related to the pandemic? We have health, economic, and fiscal data on our new tool, How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Transforming State Budgets.

Louisiana’s budget basics

According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), Louisiana’s total expenditures in fiscal year (FY) 2021 were $37.7 billion, including general funds, other state funds, bonds, and federal funds. NASBO reported that total expenditures across all states in FY 2021 were $2.7 trillion, ranging from $4.7 billion in Wyoming to $512.8 billion in California.

Each state allocates spending and taxes differently among different levels of governments, and local governments often administer programs with state funds, so combined state and local government data show a more complete picture of individual benefits and contributions when comparing states.

Per the US Census Bureau, Louisiana’s combined state and local direct general expenditures were $44.4 billion in FY 2019 (the most recent year census data were available), or $9,526 per capita. (Census data exclude “business-like” activities such as utilities and transfers between state and local governments.) National per capita direct general expenditures were $10,161.

Louisiana’s largest spending areas per capita were public welfare ($2,715) and elementary and secondary education ($1,730). The Census Bureau includes most Medicaid spending in public welfare but also allocates some of it to public hospitals. Per capita spending is useful for state comparisons but is an incomplete metric because it doesn’t provide any information about a state’s demographics, policy decisions, administrative procedures, or residents’ choices.

Louisiana’s combined state and local general revenues were $45.3 billion in FY 2019, or $9,718 per capita. National per capita general revenues were $10,563. Louisiana uses all major state and local taxes. After federal transfers, Louisiana’s largest sources of per capita revenue were general sales taxes ($1,759) and charges ($1,365), such as state university tuition and highway tolls.

Louisiana’s politics

Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, was elected in 2019 with 51 percent of the vote. The next gubernatorial election is in 2023.

Louisiana has a divided government. Republicans control both the House of Representatives (68 Republicans to 33 Democrats and 3 independents) and Senate (27 Republicans to 12 Democrats). The entire legislature is up for election in 2023 because both representatives and senators serve four-year terms.

Louisiana’s budget institutions, rules, and constraints

Louisiana uses an annual budget. The legislature must pass a balanced budget, but it can carry a deficit over into the following year. Louisiana limits both spending and revenue growth with binding rules so a legislative supermajority is required to override them. A supermajority is also required for any bill that increases taxes. The state also limits total authorized debt incurred by the state, but does not restrict debt service.

(Note: Some states have informal budget institutions that constrain overall spending growth or a specific expenditure’s growth.)

Louisiana’s current budget

Governor Edwards released his FY 2023 budget proposal in January 2022. He has not given his state of the state address.

Louisiana enacted its FY 2022 budget in June 2021. The enacted budget included $38 billion in total spending.

Under the American Rescue Plan, Louisiana will receive $3 billion in direct state fiscal aid and $1.5 billion in local government aid from the federal government. As of January 2022, Louisiana had spent part of its ARP funds on refilling its unemployment insurance trust fund, capital construction, and economic development.

According to NASBO, Louisiana’s recent expenditure totals (general fund spending/total spending, including federal transfers) were:

  • FY 2021: $10.1 billion/$37.7 billion

  • FY 2020: $9.6 billion/$31.1 billion

  • FY 2019: $9.8 billion/$29.4 billion

For more on Louisiana’s budget, see