The House convenes at 9 a.m. as lawmakers try again to pass a spending plan for next fiscal year, after failing to do so in the regular session. Governor John Bel Edwards says his recommendation is that lawmakers pick up where they left off with the conference committee report.
“I think they ought to start there. That’s going to be our recommendation to them, but ultimately they will decide which bills they actually advance through their committees,” Edwards said.
The big debate over the budget came down to lawmakers arguing over how much, if any, of the revenue forecast to withhold in case of midyear cuts. The House wanted to hold back about $200 million, while the Senate pushed to spend more. House Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry of Metairie says were it up to him, he’d save even more.
“Me personally, I think we should only spend about 95 percent of what the revenue estimating committees has recognized. I think that’s a safer bet to avoid midyear cuts,” Henry said.
The budget will start on the House side in committee, and from there it still has to pass the House floor and make it through the Upper Chamber. Henry says there are some key priorities lawmakers hope to fully funds, like TOPS. He says giving parole workers a pay raise is also high on the list.
“The governor has pushed a whole bunch of criminal justice reforms through. If those come to fruition, then probation and parole are going to have a lot of work on their hands,” Henry said, “We know that looking forward. So I think we need to step up and take care of that.”