Louisiana’s senators agreed Sunday to a $29 billion state operating budget for the financial year that begins next month, along with about $540 million in taxes necessary to pay for it.
The spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 would avoid worst-case scenario cuts discussed for months. Senators voted 38-1 Sunday night for the budget proposal and then later backed the centerpiece sales tax bill with a 29-9 vote.
But the House has yet to agree to the plans in a special session that must end Monday by midnight.
The House has backed $400 million in taxes, leaving the two chambers trying to broker a tax and budget deal in the remaining hours of the session. Lawmakers remained uncertain if an agreement would be struck.
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In the Senate’s budget, college campuses and the TOPS tuition program would be protected from reductions, along with major health programs and the child-welfare agency. Corrections officers would get a pay raise. Need-based aid for college students would grow. The foster care program would be expanded to pay for students to finish high school or until they reach 21 years old, rather than ending payments when a child turns 18.
“We did the best that we could,” said Senate Finance Chairman Eric LaFleur, the Ville Platte Democrat who handles the budget in the Senate.
If enough taxes aren’t passed by lawmakers to pay for the budget proposal, certain portions of the bill…