Louisiana surplus dispute likely to linger for months

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BATON ROUGE — Did the state close last year’s books with a surplus or a deficit?

Seems like an easy-to-answer question, a comparison of state expenses against revenues.

But the Jindal administration’s claims of a $179 million surplus have run into skepticism.

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols says the administration identified cash that hadn’t been calculated over several years.

Treasurer John Kennedy says the method strays from Louisiana’s traditional accounting practices, which would show the state with a $141 million deficit.

Lawmakers will sort through the conflicting stories at a Friday hearing, but the final figure likely won’t be determined until early next year.

Thomas Cole, director of financial audit services for the legislative auditor, says auditors won’t be finished with their review until December, and it’s traditionally presented to lawmakers in January.

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