BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — Senators spent their Saturday afternoon sifting through the billions of dollars it's going to take to keep the state up and running.
"There was a deficit forecasted in the five year budget that we receive. Each year that deficit is upward of a billion dollars and this year was no exception," explained Senator Jack Donahue.
The budget that came from the House of Representatives cut over $100 million from the Executive Budget. After being told they would have a little more revenue than they thought senators were able to put back some, but not all of that money, with no major harm to healthcare or higher education.
"We have restored about $80 million, that's about $30 million left in cuts to state government," Donahue said.
Senators were also faced with the challenge of finding money for the public private partnerships and the voucher program.
"Amendment number 31 is $44.6 million. It was originally about $46 million coming from the senate finance committee. Most of this money is for the voucher program. But it has been reduced by $2 million," explained Senator Karen Peterson.
"With this amendment it says we'll spend about $20 million more next year," said Senator Edwin Murray, a major opponent of the voucher program.
There were some pleasant surprises too, as senator found room for over 100 new NOW waivers.
"We provided funding for an additional 125 now waiver slots and retained the funding for the 75 additional now slots added by the house. Thereby producing a total of 200 now slots," Donahue said.
The waivers help those with mental disabilities to live at home with medical help. They also left in the five million in funding to train a new class of state troopers.
Senators tried several times during the process to offer amendments that would suspend Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood across the state. Those failed both times.