BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - After a day of debate, House lawmakers at the Louisiana State Capitol have agreed to a plan to spend your tax dollars. Both TOPS and state-backed hospitals take a cut.
Edwards described the budget plan passed by the House as a "complete failure" and "unworthy of the people of Louisiana." The plan leaves TOPS funded at just 80 percent, while also cutting healthcare services.
The plan was backed by Republicans. Most Democrats, along with a handful of Republicans, voted against. The Edwards administration warns that if the budget took effect, it could lead to the state's partner hospitals that treat the poor to back out of their agreements, which could cause the hospitals, clinics, and even the newly opened ER in north Baton Rouge to shut down.
The governor indicated he would veto the budget.
"There is far too much angst and turbulence going on today because of all the harm that these cuts threaten upon the people of Louisiana," said Edwards. "So, the sooner the better for the special session. The Senate cannot fix this budget."
The plan takes into account the state's projected $650 million shortfall, which is expected to take effect in July when temporary taxes fall off the books. Lawmakers had a chance to address that shortfall earlier this year during a special session, but they did nothing.
Republican leaders defended their plan.
"This is an important day in Louisiana, because we spent money responsibly," said Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie. "Is it a perfect budget? No. We'll never get a perfect budget. Someone will always need more. But what we've started to do is look at what agencies actually spend and base our budgets off of that, not what they'd like to have."
The governor still wants lawmakers to end the regular session early to hold a special session to pass taxes to fill in the shortfall. Even some House Republican leaders conceded that seems to be the case.