La. House sends budget to conference committee

La. House sends budget to conference committee
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The House voted Friday to reject the Senate's amendments to next year's state budget, sending the bill to conference committee.

The unanimous vote comes just three days before the session wraps up.

"I feel like we have hospitals underfunded, TOPS underfunded, and so my preference would be that we take another look to see if there's a better way to redistribute the cuts as it currently stands in the event that we don't succeed in the special session," said Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond.

Earlier this week, the Senate passed an amended budget. Under that plan, TOPS scholarships would be funded at 48 percent. The partnership hospitals that treat the uninsured, meanwhile, would face a $60 million cut.

The latest projections have Louisiana short $600 million for the fiscal year starting July 1.

"This is just a unique year where we're going to pass a budget that none of us really like, but we're going to be back in session fixing it," said Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe.

The conference committee, made up of legislators from both chambers, will have a chance to reach a compromise on the budget.

House Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, told lawmakers today that they will pass a budget before the end of the session, which must close by 6 p.m. Monday.

"We will have a budget, one way or another, whether I like it or not, we will have a budget when we finish here on Monday," Henry said while asking that lawmakers reject the amendments.

While voting on the budget, many lawmakers were looking toward the upcoming second special session, which is set to begin thirty minutes after the regular session ends Monday. Under state law, legislators cannot vote to raise more revenue during the regular session this year but they can during a special session.

The governor met with Republicans and Democrats this morning to talk about that session, outlining his plans.

"Some of his ideas are good and I look forward to supporting those. Others I think may be a little bit of a stretch, but the dialogue with the governor right now is good," Broadwater said.

"I'm a conservative by nature, but I also like to think that I'm open-minded enough to take the information, where we are, what we want do as our state for our people, and then if we have to vote for more revenue, then I'm open to hearing the argument for it," said Rep. Robert Shadoin, R-Ruston.

The second special session begins at 6:30 p.m.

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