The Louisiana House resumed debate on the $25 billion proposed state spending plan Friday afternoon after bickering over how to balance the budget.
At issue is how much one-time money should be used in the budget.
Gov. Bobby Jindal wants to use $268 million in one-time dollars to balance the budget. A number of Republicans prefer to make deeper cuts.
State Rep. Cameron Henry, R-New Orleans, offered an amendment that would give the Jindal administration $357 million in possible reductions to purge the one-time money from the budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
The suggestions include:
- Reducing funding for vacant positions.
- Reducing out-of-state and conference travel, supplies and acquisitions.
- Forcing state workers to take off two days without pay.
- Reducing state employee overtime.
- Delaying the payment of judgments against the state
Democrats characterized Henry’s solutions as one-time money.
State Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, asked if the furloughs would spread into more than one year.
Henry said he could only do them for the one year covered by the budget.
“Is it OK to use one-time money if it comes out of the pockets of state workers?” James asked.
“Yes,” Henry said.
State Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Marksville, said Henry wanted legislators to abdicate their authority by giving the Jindal administration a slate of options.
Henry said making reductions in the complicated state government budget is not easy.
“This amendment is very strange. I haven’t seen other amendments like this in my time here,” said state Rep. Walt Leger III, D-New Orleans.
State Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles and co-sponsor of the amendment, said the idea is to create options.
Henry said he sat down with the Jindal administration in an attempt to find alternatives to using one-time money.
He said he did not get as much direction as he would have liked.
“Was it my way or the highway,” asked state Rep. Eddie Lambert, R-Prairieville, in reference to the Jindal administration’s attitude.
“It was close to that,” Henry said.
Hearings and debate streamed live on the Internet at www.legis.la.gov