House rejects Senate's version of state budget

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - House Speaker Chuck Kleckley issued a challenge to his representative colleagues on May 2, with regards to the state budget. Tuesday, his fellow lawmakers appeared to take his words to heart rejecting the Senate's version of the state budget that included hundreds of amendments to the House's plan.

"Right now the one-time money for recurring expenses is a problem, there are several budget reform bills that we feel are beneficial for the state long-term that we would like to see as well," said Representative Cameron Henry Jr. of Metairie.

Henry, Speaker Kleckley and other members of the House are now headed to a conference committee with several members of the Senate including President John Alario after the House rejected the Senate's amendments to the budget.

The biggest sticking points, according to several members of the House, are the Senate's use of one-time or non-recurring money to fund over $70 million of state and private hospital partnerships and the expansion of the school voucher program. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Jack Donahue will be in that committee as well and admits to the two bodies are far apart.

"In my six years here, I don't think I have seen quite the problems that exist at this stage there is still time to get things resolved and I think everyone on House and Senate side will try to get those differences resolved," said Donahue.

The big question however, is if those differences can be resolved by Thursday's 6 p.m. deadline.

Henry says finishing in time will not be the priority.

"I think tax payers want us to pass a fiscally-sound budget. If we have that by Thursday, all of us will vote for it and we'll be on our merry way.  Now if that doesn't happen and talks break down, we'll do everything we can to prevent it but we're not going to pass a bad budget simply to avoid coming back to session," said Henry.

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