GOP Lawmakers Propose "Standstill" State Budget

Republicans in the Louisiana House have proposed a "standstill" state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The spending plan is about $630 million below the budget advanced by the Governor.  It calls for spending $235 million less than requested for the state Department of Health but it would fully fund the TOPS scholarship program.  Pay raises for state workers would be barred under the Republican plan.

Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee amended and passed the plan, on a 17-5 party-line vote. All Democrats on the panel voted against it.

Chairman Cameron Henry (R- Metairie) says state spending for next year would be frozen at the current year's level, with the exception of some constitutionally mandated increases.

Henry says the proposal accounts for spending 97.5% of estimated revenues and is intended to avoid another mid-year deficit.

Representative Franklin Foil (R- Baton Rouge) provided an amendment to fully fund the TOPS program. Governor Edwards' initial budget failed to fully fund TOPS by $82 million. 

Debate on the proposal is expected to begin later this week in the full House.

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