Budget debate begins Thursday in the Louisiana House
BATON ROUGE - Lawmakers in the Louisiana House are expecting a long day as they debate how to craft next year's budget and close a $600 million shortfall.
The biggest disagreement for the financial year that begins July 1 centers on whether to prioritize the TOPS free college tuition program and give it full funding at the expense of health services for the poor, elderly and disabled.
That's the approach the House Appropriations Committee took, led by its chairman, Republican Rep. Cameron Henry.
The committee came up with the nearly $300 million to pay for all TOPS-eligible students next year. That was done at the expense of other agencies, including a hefty hit to the state health department.
Gov. John Bel Edwards called the approach irresponsible.
House budget debate begins Thursday afternoon.