Lawmakers are close to reaching a budget agreement with just five days left in the special session. The House approved a spending plan that appropriates all of the available dollars, something they would not agree to do during the regular session. Jackson Representative Kenny Havard says no one got everything they wanted in this deal.
“The body voted yesterday to basically appropriate all of the money but hold back $60 million in case of a shortfall,” Havard said.
House Republicans originally proposed to withhold more than $200 million to avoid midyear cuts. Houma Representative Tanner Magee says the spending plan isn’t perfect, but it’s probably the best they could do as far as reaching a compromise.
“It’s still probably $400 million short of what the governor originally requested. It appropriates 100 percent of REC though, which was not something that the Republicans really wanted to do,” Magee said.
The bill does instruct the administration to hold back $60 million in case of midyear cuts, while appropriating the entire revenue forecast. Havard says no one wants to spend more money than we take in, but they had to come to an agreement.
“All of the money had to be allocated so that they could go back later in the year if there is a shortfall. If not we would have to come back in and allocate that money during a special session,” Havard said.
The bill has the support of Governor John Bel Edwards, and Magee says he expects the Senate to approve it as well. He says he is cautiously optimistic lawmakers are moving in the right direction. He says it’s a relief they’re close to reaching an agreement.
“I think what the people of Louisiana want more than anything else is for us to do our jobs and do it as quickly and efficiently as possible. I wasn’t keen on dragging this out any further than absolutely necessary,” Magee said.
The full Senate could pass the House approved budget on Friday.