Lawmakers frustrated over last minute state budget cuts

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At the close of the regular legislative session, lawmakers say they had only 20 minutes to review and vote on the state budget. The final budget had a $100 million cut to the Department of Health and only one year appropriated for teacher pay raises. Alexandria Senator Jay Luneau said the budget was drastically different when it returned from the House.

“So, our only option is to vote for it and pass it or you shut the state down until you have a special session and try to get things taken care of and that’s not a good option either,” said Luneau.

Luneau said the most frustrating cut was to LDH, without any testimony in committee if the money actually legitimately needed to be cut.

“And this is at a time when have the biggest surplus we’ve perhaps ever had in Louisiana and certainly more in savings than we’ve ever had in the State of Louisiana,” said Luneau.

The final budget dedicated funding for $2,000 teacher pay raises but only for the next fiscal year. Luneau said if the state can’t bring teacher pay up to the southern regional average at a time when the state is flush with cash…

“Then shame on us, the message that we send to teachers is that we’ve got all this money but you’re not worthy of us paying you, giving you a raise to get you up to the southern average,” said Luneau.

Overall Luneau said the session went well and they were able to address several issues but it’s unfortunate how it ended with the budget.

 

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