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Louisiana Legislature Approves Budget with Minutes to Spare

June 13, 2023 5:04 PM | Anonymous

The 60-day legislative session came to a dramatic end at 6pm on Thursday, June 8, 2023. With approximately 1,000 amendments that had to be added to the budget bills (HB 1) in the last hours of session, the House and Senate passed the budget package in the final half-hour with the House doing so with only minutes to spare before final adjournment. While the bills were being negotiated behind closed doors in conference committee in the final hours, tensions began to mount in the House Chamber as many lawmakers expressed frustration that they were given little to no time to vet the spending plans that have been major points of contention throughout session. 

Health care and education were slapped the hardest. The budget included a surprise $100 million cut to the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) and a $2,000 teacher pay raise became a one-time stipend in lieu of being funded by the MFP—the funding formula for Louisiana Public Schools.

Despite LDH’s cut, the department’s $15 billion budget was still increased by $144 million. According to Rep. Jerome Zeringue, R-Houma (who is Chairman of House Appropriations Committee), the reduction was based in part on an accelerated timeline for Medicaid redeterminations.

In addition to healthcare and teacher salaries on the chopping block, early childhood education efforts landed at $44 million in the budget – down from the originally slated $52 million budget. The $2.2 billion in excess cash lawmakers fought over all session got squeezed into a supplemental bill, where local government leaders will find spending for roads, bridges and other services. Lawmakers will also get to say they made $690 million in additional debt payments. A veto by Governor Edwards and a legislative veto override session are sure to follow the drama of the last day of the session. 

 
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