Louisiana House of Representatives passes budget

Louisiana House of Representatives passes budget

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - With 30 minutes to spare, the Louisiana Legislature finalized a budget and reached an agreement on how they're going to spend the state's money in the fiscal year ahead beginning July 1.

The final budget now goes to Gov. Jindal's desk.

While much of his legislative agenda was tossed aside in April and May, it now appears Gov. Jindal will ultimately get what he wants from the Legislature in terms of claiming he didn't raise taxes.

"I will swallow my pride. I will choose to be embarrassed knowing that I fought to the very end for higher education. And if I have to that, I will. And if it gets me beat, let me be beat," said Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond.

The House narrowly voted Thursday to attach the controversial SAVE fund to next year's budget.

It's a move that will likely prevent the governor from vetoing the $24 billion spending plan.

Rep. Broadwater says he would rather vote in support of the phantom higher education fee than risk major cuts to the state's public colleges and universities, but his colleague Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, says bring on a veto session.

"If the governor does that, he does it. That's his prerogative. Our prerogative if we prioritize higher education is come here, undo the veto with an override.

Taking a more drastic approach in opposition to SAVE, Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, attempted to filibuster passing the SAVE credit.

"I'll talk to you guys and read this article while they're are other conversations going on. I am the Gemini product of two Gemini parents," Rep. James read.

His motion was halted after a few minutes by House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles.

Speaker Kleckley opened the morning thanking his colleagues for their work the past two months. He then spoke in a tone that has been heard before in which he tried to rally the troops to get things done.

He said it is now crunch time.

"We have some very difficult votes to make today," Kleckley said. "We've got the ball almost to the goal line. We're about ready to cross that goal line. And, we can adjourn at the end of today solving our budget crisis. Whether it's a temporary crisis or just kicking the can down the road, I don't care how you label it. But the fact is we can solve this."

The House rejected the Senate's version of the budget Wednesday, sending it to a special conference committee, where the final details of the $24 billion spending plan would be hashed out between a joint group of lawmakers behind closed doors before returning to the House floor.

At stake was closing the states massive estimated $1.8 billion deficit and preventing drastic cuts to higher education and healthcare, all while satisfying Gov. Bobby Jindal with what he calls a revenue neutral budget.

Jindal was seen on the Senate floor talking to Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, around 11:15 a.m. And then later, the governor appeared on the House floor to hear farewell speeches from Rep. Jeff Arnold, D-New Orleans, and Speaker Kleckley.

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