House approves budget cut plan

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana House of Representatives approved a budget cut plan Friday, featuring deeper cuts and less of the "rainy day" fund than Gov. John Bel Edwards wanted.

Overall, the cuts in the House proposal amount to $115 million, far more than the $60 million included in the governor's plan.

"A majority of the House decided to inflict more pain than is necessary," Edwards said during a news conference late Friday evening.

Under the proposal, state prisons and K-12 public schools would see reductions. Edwards had hoped to spare both from the knife. The Department of Health would also take a larger hit than in the governor's proposal.

"I really don't think that this is the best that this body can do," said Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans. "I think we can do better."

House Democrats and the governor wanted to tap into more state savings to clear up part of the budget shortfall, in hopes of avoiding reductions. They introduced a series amendments attempting to restore cuts to corrections and other agencies. The Republican-majority House voted down those amendments.

The Republicans, instead, voted for the cuts, saying they wanted to reign in the size of government. In doing so, they said they hoped to prevent the yearly shortfalls going forward.

Compared to the governor's plan, which relied on $119 million in rainy day fund dollars, the House plan uses only $75 million.

"Never have an agency ever say, 'Thank you for taking my money,' ever," said Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie. "Never have an agency say, 'I understand the position you're in, let me see how I can help,' never."

The budget cuts proposal now heads over to the Senate, where senators will have a chance to modify it. That process begins Saturday.

Copyright 2017 WAFB. All rights reserved.