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State lawmakers tight-lipped on spending cuts

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BATON ROUGE- State lawmakers are bracing for a hard hitting budget proposal from Governor Jindal's office next month. With an estimated $1.5 billion dollar hole in next years budget, legislators are left with some tough decisions.

The governor already put higher-education on the chopping-block, proposing up to $300 million in cuts. Also at least one state agency, the Office of Secretary of State, has announced furloughs to save money.

Friday at a monthly Joint Legislative Budget Committee meeting held at the Capitol, legislators weren't specific about what cuts they were willing to make in spending. "I will say this, if the revenues don't match the spending, something has got to be cut," said Alexandria Representative Lance Harris

The cuts are expected to be so severe, they might come down to every nickel and dime. "They can cut on some credit cards, and they can cut on some specific equipment they don't need, cell phones and things. That's how specific and nit-picky things will have to get this year," said New Orleans Representative Helena Moreno.

The only serious cuts proposed are in higher education, totaling as much as 300 million. According to the president of LSU's faculty senate, Kevin Cope, cuts to that degree could close down one of the state's many universities. "If the universities shut down, the economies around the universities shut down. There are 35 of those economies in the state and all the people who work in and for them," said Cope.

Some LSU students are concerned the cuts could mean less programs, hurting the university's prestige. "If we don't have this for a model for people to look at, then we're not going to say much about the quality of education in Louisiana," said doctoral student Metha Klock.



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