The Louisiana House voted 63-28 Friday night to advance a dramatically revamped $25 billion state spending plan that could result in state workers losing two days of pay.
Squabbling over Gov. Bobby Jindal’s bid to balance the budget with one-time money led to a 24-hour stalemate over House Bill 1, the state operating budget for the fiscal year that ends July 1.
The dispute ended when Republicans bucked the GOP governor and purged money that likely will only materialize once.
Instead of using one-time dollars, the Jindal administration now would be directed to choose from a menu of options for cutting $268 million from a budget that funds hospitals, colleges and other state services. The options include sending state employees home without pay for two days, reducing overtime and cutting vacant positions along with other reductions across state government.
The passage of the amendment creating the makeover of the legislation drew praise from U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy.
“This is a major step forward for fiscal responsibility. I urge the governor and the state senate to follow this really positive lead,” Vitter said in a prepared statement.
Kennedy said the amendment would save taxpayers money by reducing state consulting contracts and vacant state government positions.
For at least part of the daylong debate, Jindal was out of town or out of state. The governor helped dedicate a crane in New Orleans before flying to Oklahoma to raise money for that state’s Republican Party. The day before, with the House deadlocked on the budget, the governor flew to Alabama for another party fundraiser.