Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Ahead of special session, La. Senate passes budget with hefty cuts

Ahead of special session, La. Senate passes budget with hefty cuts

A plan outlining how Louisiana should spend unbudgeted cash from the last two budget years has won state Senate support.

It was called the "Hail Mary" bill when Senator J.P. Morrell filed it back in March, but unanimous jury verdicts are a vote of the people away from becoming reality in Louisiana.

The ongoing regular session is expected to conclude Friday, leading to a special session where lawmakers will debate a variety of tax and revenue ideas to address a $648 million shortfall. "But at least we spell out what it is that we want".

The budget approved in a 27-10 vote Tuesday would shield nursing home residents from evictions and keep Louisiana's safety-net hospitals from closure. The spending plan would eliminate food stamps and food inspections, while closing parks and cutting the TOPS scholarship program by $69 million, or 30 percent.

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However, in February, the Supreme Court rejected the administration's bid to get the justices to intervene in the controversy. Texas and six other states in recent weeks sued to end the original program, and the case is before the same federal judge.

"Both the House and Senate have now validated what we've been saying all along - you can not fashion a budget that adequately funds our priorities without maintaining a portion of the revenue that is expiring", said Gov. Edwards. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans).

Democrats who voted against the proposal said lawmakers should halt their budget talks until after they pass tax bills. "This is just an exercise in futility".

Also Monday evening, more than 50 members of the state House of Representatives sent the Governor a letter requesting that he add a Constitutional Convention to the special session call because they want "to pursue long-term, structural reform of our finance and budget system".

If both chambers agree on a budget this, it would go to Edwards for a final signature.

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