Lawmakers reach budget compromise, special session ends

Gov. Edwards speaks after state lawmakers reach budget deal

BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - State lawmakers wrapped up the latest special session dealing with state government's ongoing money problems.

The budget for the current fiscal year is $304 million short, and like most legislative sessions, last-minute negotiations are always involved. Republicans in the House are key to a negotiated deal.

Gov. John Bel Edwards proposed using $119 million of the state's Rainy Day Fund to close some of the budget gap, along with cuts to some state agencies.

But Republicans in the House said no and passed a measure to use only $75 million. The Senate pushed back, proposing that $99 million of the fund be used.

For much of the day, Republicans huddled to try to get the necessary votes for the $99 million compromise.

It still leaves us a little bit left over if we need it for the future - about $20 million if there's any problems between now and the end of the year, so it's a spot where not everybody is happy," said Rep. Cameron Henry.

"I definitely was in support of what the governor wanted to do," said Rep. Helena Moreno. "I think we should have used $119 million of the Rainy Day Fund.  I think that just made the most sense to me in the world. Why not go ahead and mitigate some of these very significant cuts? Obviously, on the Republican side they wanted to go much lower than that, and the compromise came to about $99 million."

Senate President John Alario said Wednesday that the $99 million amount from the Rainy Day Fund is the magic number. Gov. Edwards is on board with the lesser amount just to get to a resolution.

Cuts were approved to the Department of Health and the Legislature. The deadline for ending the session is midnight.

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