Lawmakers pass budget in the last hours of session
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — In an almost unheard of move, the state budget was passed Thursday with only one vote against it. And for the first time, in a long time, cuts aren't being made to some of the most vital areas.
"We’re spending less money in state government. I think we realize priorities are healthcare and higher education. We try to take steps to make sure that the money that is available goes to those areas," said Senator Republican Senator Jack Donahue.
They’ve even found a way to give teachers a raise and public education a boost.
"For the first time in five years we are renewing our commitment to increase our per pupil funding to elementary and secondary public education in the state of Louisiana. $69 million," said Representative John Bel Edwards.
"What the people of this state can see is not only a budget that barely meets the needs, but also gives some systems of education and K-12 a much needed injection," added Representative Katrina Jackson.
And with this year's budget comes a promise, thanks to solid funding sources people shouldn't be forced to scramble and cut when the money runs out.
"Higher education is funded with real dollars, where before they were funded with contingencies and one time money. We believe that healthcare is funded with real dollars. We’re hopeful that what we've done here will lessen the likelihood of end and mid-year cuts," explained Representative Brett Geymann, a member of the Fiscal Hawks group.
“We’ve made a $69 million investment in K-12 education and protected our historic educations reforms from last session, including the Louisiana Scholarship Program and our changes to teacher tenure—all without raising taxes,” said Governor Bobby Jindal in a prepared statement.
Not everyone is please with the outcome of the session. More than a dozen bills that deal with the expansion of Medicaid were shot down during the course of the session, something advocates were upset to see.
The Governor has expressed that he will support this budget. It just needs his signature to be made into law.