DALLAS — The Louisiana House met in an unusual Sunday session to adopt a $25.6 billion budget for fiscal 2013 that includes $272 million of one-time revenue to balance the spending plan.
The House adopted the Senate’s version of HB 1 that restored $300 million of spending cuts mandated by the budget bill that passed the House in mid-May.
The budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 is almost identical to the executive budget proposed in February by Gov. Bobby Jindal.
The Republican governor praised the spending plan approved by the Legislature.
“This is a responsible budget that is balanced, doesn’t raise taxes, continues to reduce the size of state government, and protects critical services, including higher education and health care,” he said.
The House adopted a version of the budget May 11 that took out the non-recurring revenues and directed Jindal to find spending cuts to balance the revised revenues.
House rules require a two-thirds majority to adopt a budget that is balanced with one-time revenues, and a group of conservative Republicans blocked last month’s efforts by Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, to use those revenues.
However, the Senate restored the one-time revenues last week after Jindal administration officials said the resulting cuts would devastate higher education, the prison system and health services.
Fannin agreed that one-time money should not be appropriated for recurring expenses, but said declining revenues provide few good options.
“Rather than turn out the lights, you would go into the savings account in an emergency situation,” he said during Sunday’s debate in the House.
“We need a budget out of here that will try to protect our health care, our higher education, all of those other services in between,” Fannin said.
Adopting the Senate version of the budget needed only a simple majority in the House rather than the two-thirds required for the earlier measure. Several lawmakers who opposed the use of the one-time revenues earlier voted for the new proposal.
The vote was 62 to 40. The opposition included 37 Republicans, two Democrats, and one independent.
Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, the leader of the Democratic minority in the House, voted against the budget.
He called it “the worst, most irresponsible document ever to be put forward as a spending plan in the state of Louisiana.”
The House also agreed with a Senate proposal to take $205 million from the state’s $600 million rainy-day fund to balance the budget of the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.