Louisiana health, family services agencies ask lawmakers for funding increases
By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor – March 28, 2023
(The Center Square) — The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday vetted budget recommendations for the state departments of health and children and family services, both of which are requesting increases for the coming fiscal year.
Heather McKnight with the Senate Fiscal Services presented an overview of the proposed budget for the Louisiana Department of Health that would total nearly $20.7 billion for fiscal year 2023-24, or roughly $344 million more than the current budget.
McKnight explained that Medicaid expansion and federal COVID spending has increased the department’s budget from about $9.5 billion in the 2015-16 fiscal year, equating to a 117% increase.
“The state general fund has only grown by $398.1 million out of the $11 billion” increase since 2016, she said, “so relatively speaking the general fund demand in the department’s growth is not that great.”
Statewide adjustments would cut $51 million from the LDH budget, while workload adjustments were $726 million, which is in part due to Medicaid costs. Roughly 72.3% of the budget is expected to come from the federal government, accounting for $14.9 billion, while $2.8 billion would come from the state’s general fund. Other funding sources include interagency transfers of $654.7 million, fees and self-generated revenues of $724.6 million, and statutory dedications of about $1.5 billion.
“The majority of the money that flows to LDH is going to be federal funding, most of it is Medicaid match,” McKnight said.
About $18.2 billion of LDH’s budget is for Medicaid. Personal services including salaries and other compensation and benefits would consume about $659.5 million, up from $643.3 million in the current budget.
LDH is recommending 6,456 full time positions, or about 19% of total state positions recommended for fiscal year 2024, with the average salary of $60,893.
The Senate Fiscal Division’s Kari Couvillon updated lawmakers on the proposed budget for the Department of Children and Family Services.
The department’s requested budget would spend about $902.4 million in fiscal year 2023-24, up from about $889.8 million in FY 2022-23. The proposed budget would represent an increase of 44% from fiscal year 2016.
About $587.1 million of the $902.4 million request would come from the federal government, about $280.4 million from the state general fund, and the remainder from interagency transfers, fees and self-generated revenue, and statutory dedications.
DCFS wants to increase the department’s employees from 3,664 as of Dec. 1 to 3,737 for the next fiscal year, at a cost of $6.3 million.
“DCFS employees make up about 10% of your total authorized state employees,” Couvillon said, noting that the department had about 380 vacancies as of Feb. 27.”Most of the positions are in family support, about 51%.”
Total personal services for DCFS, including salaries and other compensation and related benefits, is recommended at $370.9 million, or about $22.5 million more than the current budget.
When comparing the FY2023 enacted budget to the proposed FY2024 budget, DCFS is requesting an increase of $24.4 million, or about 2.8%. Nearly all of the increase, or just over $24 million, would come from the state’s general fund.
The budget for the divisions of Management and Finance and Child Welfare would increase by about $17 million each, while the Division of Family Support would decrease by $10 million, Couvillon said.