Budget passes House, but with a twist - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Budget passes House, but with a twist

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By David Spunt - email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - After weeks of debate, Governor Bobby Jindal has the state's operating budget on his desk, but the 69-25 approval vote Thursday afternoon by the House is not necessarily a done deal.

Usually at this stage in the session, lawmakers are much further behind in the budget process.  That all changed after a surprising move in the House to pass the budget, but two of the biggest sticking points this session, health care and higher education, are both still hanging in the balance.

A total of $278 million hinges on the passage of other bills that still haven't been finalized. "The bill that came back to the House was about 98% of what the House sent over to the Senate," said House Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Terrytown.

Tucker and 68 of his colleagues passed what they call a bill that will help lower cuts. The 25 who voted against the measure feel they were rushed. "We come in, within five or ten minutes and say, 'This is what we're going to do with the bill. This is how we're going to spend billions of taxpayer dollars, and this is how we're going to cut health care and education,'" said Rep. Juan LaFonta, D-New Orleans. "I just don't think it's a fair process."

"I'm committed to making sure higher education has the money needed," Rep Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro said.

Governor Jindal, by law, has ten days to sign the budget. He's expected to use what's called "line item veto" power, where he'll basically go through line by line and cut out what he doesn't want.

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