Louisiana House leaders want to pare spending in budget deal

The original House spending plan - backed by Republicans in the chamber, but opposed by almost all Democrats - sought to leave $206 million unspent in the financial year that begins July 1, even though the state income forecast predicts the dollars will be available.

Delegate Cindy Frich, a Morgantown Republican, re-introduced legislation to end state support for the state's greyhound racing, which she told colleagues would save $15 million for a subsidy where most purse money leaves the state.

Speaking this morning on MetroNews' "Talkline", House Speaker Tim Armstead noted that Democratic votes are nearly certainly a necessary aspect of getting a bill passed through that chamber.

This Thursday, June 8, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price will appear before the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Ways and Means to defend the President's FY 2018 Budget titled "A New Foundation for American Greatness".

Several Republican lawmakers were happy to see the Legislature, which their party controls, trying to improve the state's education system, but they didn't believe additional funding is all of the solution.

"In the two months we've been here, we've had the opportunity to fix this budget and at least put a down payment on next year's fiscal cliff, which we recognize as a problem", he said Monday.

Legislators on the House Appropriations Committee keen to include amendments adding to the bottom line earned a warning from Rep. Troy Waymaster, a Bunker Hill Republican who chairs the budget-drafting committee.

On Monday, the Senate quickly adjourned, awaiting action by the House, which has previously voted against Senate-passed tax measures backed by Justice.

The Senate affirmed 2 percent pay raises for state employees not affiliated with the Kansas Highway Patrol.

"We don't want to have triggers so easily satisfied that we could bring down income tax 20 percent but have a $300 million plus hole in the budget".

"A number of members of the General Assembly, that for athletic facilities and those things that are not education related, that maybe we don't need to go through the Commission of Higher Education to approve those projects", Sen.

Another Democratic delegate, Larry Rowe, said the morning session with the governor provided significant food for thought.

House Minority Leader Tim Miley said the governor spent more than two hours discussing his latest plan to balance the 2018 budget. Eric LaFleur, Chairman of Senate Finance, members approved Thursday ensures full funding of TOPS scholarship and pumps more money into state universities for the first time in nine years.

"I think the governor made a very strong case for the position that he's taking", said Rowe, D-Kanawha.

As compared to previous year through May, the state has taken in $550.3 million less in revenue.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, supports the Senate version.

The proposal, obtained by The Associated Press, would remove dollars the Senate proposed to spend on health services, colleges, prisons, state police and the child welfare agency.

  • Larry Hoffman