Louisiana Lawmakers Near Deadline to Pass State's Operating Budget
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) During the second to last day of Louisiana's legislative session, lawmakers cleared a major hurdle in crafting the state's fiscal plan voting to breach the constitutional expenditure limit but as the clock ticks down to adjournment, legislators still need to pass a budget.
For years, Louisianas financial woes under former Gov. Bobby Jindal forced lawmakers to cut areas of the budget. But now, faced with an estimated $2.2 billion in extra revenue, legislators are debating how to spend the more-than-expected funds.
Whether or not to breach the states expenditure restraints inserted into the state constitution in the 1990s to reduce the growth of ordinary operating expenses and take immediate advantage of surplus funds has been a point of contention between the two chambers for weeks.
House members initially resisted that plan, wanting to put the extra money in savings accounts for future use and to pay down debt. But after pressure from the Senate, and as the adjournment deadline nears, the Louisiana House voted 85-19 Wednesday to lift the spending cap by a total of $1.65 billion.