BATON ROUGE, LA (AP) - With the narrowest vote, lawmakers in the Louisiana House spurned their GOP leaders and backed a $28 billion-plus operating budget that would use every dollar forecast to be available for spending.
The vote was a blow to House Republican leaders, who wanted to withhold $100 million from the spending bill in anticipation that Louisiana's income predictions are too optimistic.
The House decision was a victory for Governor John Bel Edwards, who released a statement Wednesday evening applauding the passage of the budget.
He says the budget compromise will fully fund higher education for the first time in ten years, will fully fund TOPS, and honors the state's commitment to veterans, as well as withholds a portion of funding to address any possible midyear shortfalls.
"This budget represents an overall compromise," said Edwards. "While it still imposes cuts across state government, it does so in a responsible way that adequately funds our needs without negatively impacting the most vulnerable among us. This budget also continues a practice that my administration began this fiscal year, whereby funds are set aside in reserves from state agencies to address possible cuts throughout the fiscal year. Equally important, this budget contains no new taxes. It is a responsible spending plan that reverses years of mismanagement and for the first time in a decade, offers some stability to our state. I appreciate the House's work with us on this bill, and I look forward to swift passage in the Louisiana Senate."
Fifty-six House members, including rank-and-file Republicans who voted with Democrats, agreed Wednesday, June 14 to a spending plan that looks largely like a version previously supported by state senators. It takes 53 votes for a bill to pass.
House GOP leaders' refusal to take up that Senate proposal helped cause the negotiation meltdown that forced lawmakers into a special legislative session.
The plan heads to the Senate Finance Committee Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m.