Senate quickly, easily backs its budget proposal
BATON ROUGE - With little disagreement or haggling, senators have agreed on their version of a $29 billion plan to finance Louisiana state government agencies next year.
The proposal would shield public colleges, the TOPS free college tuition program, state prisons and the child welfare agency from cuts. It would spend more money than the House's budget recommendation.
House Republicans proposed to spend $206 million less than the state income forecast predicts will be available, as a cushion in case the forecast is too optimistic. Senators want to spend every dollar available, suggesting that without it, agencies would face unnecessary cuts that could damage critical services.
The Senate's 36-1 vote Saturday begins the final negotiations with the House, with lawmakers hoping they can reach a deal before the legislative session ends Thursday.