On a 65-37 vote, the state House approved a 24-billion dollar budget for next fiscal year, sending the spending plan to the senate. House Appropriations Chairman Jim Fannin says the budget process started with a 1.6 billion dollar shortfall, but they covered much of that gap, by passing revenue generating bills, recognizing additional dollars thanks to an improved revenue forecast and other financing.
"With this 850-million of total revenue created, we can fully fund higher education, health care, debt service and MFP (public schools)."
As it stands now, the budget reduces funding for LSU's medical schols in New Orleans and Shreveport and the state's public-private hospital partnerships are also underfunded. Fannin says some agencies will also face cuts.
'There will still be cuts in the budget, but these cuts will be reduced and we will have funded our highest priority."
A politically charged amendment was added to the budget during the debate. The measure would require the governor's office and not State Police to pay for troopers, when Jindal makes out-of-state campaign trips. Monroe Representative Katrina Jackson is in full support.
"We do not have money in our state to pay for our State Police to travel back and forth to Iowa and every where else for campaign purposes for one person," Jackson said.
The amendment passed on a 55-35 vote, but could be removed by the Senate or Jindal can use his line-item veto power on the legislation.