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La. health dept. seeks restoration of public health funding

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BATON ROUGE - Louisiana's health department leaders are asking senators to restore $26 million to public health programs next year. Without it, they say they would have to shutter safety inspections, water monitoring programs and testing for possible disease outbreaks.

The House stripped the public health funding in its version of the $24 billion budget.

The move came after Rep. Chris Broadwater, a Republican from Hammond, complained about unresponsive bureaucracy in the Office of Public Health for business wastewater system permitting.

Health officials Friday told the Senate Finance Committee the reduction would shut down water, school cafeteria and restaurant inspections and close the state's public health lab.

Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert pledged changes to the oversight of the water programs, but said gutting the office wasn't the way to address concerns.

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