MORGAN CITY — While in Morgan City Thursday, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne gave his take on the ongoing budget cuts the state is facing, how they are affecting his department and how budget cuts have affected mental health care in Louisiana in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut.
“We’re going to continue to see budget cuts,” Dardenne said. “The projections for next year are not overly encouraging, and the wave of mid-year cuts that we’ve just experienced is causing a lot of problems.”
Dardenne’s department, which includes state parks, has been hit particularly hard by the budget cuts, he said.
“We had suggested that we felt it more appropriate to spread those cuts around. And I’d like to have the ability and the authority to manage my own budget rather than the division of administration telling me I’ve got to cut $4 million for parks,” he said.
Dardenne expects the cuts to state parks to “really hamper our efforts,” he said.
Dardenne also responded to the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, and what it means for Louisiana. “Anytime there’s a terrible tragedy like we’re experiencing, people are looking for ways to prevent them from happening or causes for why they happened,” he said.
Dardenne said it is sad that it takes a tragedy like the school shooting to trigger discussions about mental health and illness. “We have a real issue in Louisiana with dealing with mental health issues for people throughout the state, particularly adolescents,” he said. “We’re seeing some cutbacks in mental health right now in Louisiana. Unfortunately, it’s a reality of the budget situation.”
Dardenne said, “No great good can come out of the tragedy other than spurring discussion about what can be learned from the tragedy and what can be done from a preventative standpoint, he said.