BRADENTON, Fla. — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal recommended a $24.9 billion budget for fiscal 2015.

Jindal's proposal, which is a decrease of $623.7 million or 2.43% compared to the current budget, was presented to a joint legislative committee on Friday.

Included in the total budget is $8.6 billion for the state's general fund, which is an increase of around 2% over the current year.

"We are very focused this year in terms of providing you with a balanced budget that obviously doesn't raise taxes," Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols told the committee.

The executive budget does not use non-recurring money for recurring purposes, she added, but it provides priority funds - including some increases - for critical services such as education and health care.

The largest decrease in the budget is a $551.6 million reduction in federal funds for disaster and coastal recovery programs, according to Nichols.

The budget includes an authorization for $293.2 million of long-term bonds and $80.4 million of short-term financing for a total of $376.6 million, a reduction of about $8.5 million compared to what Jindal recommended in his fiscal 2014 budget.

Bonds in Jindal's budget proposal would finance $80.9 million of local government projects and $212.3 million of state projects.

The largest state projects Jindal proposed for financing are $24.3 million for state buildings and $19.8 million for economic development projects.

The spending plan reduces some agency budgets, decreases the workforce by more than 1,000 through attrition and a hiring freeze, and provides $60 million for salary increases.

Nichols told the legislative committee that the state continues work on consolidating offices and functions, modernizing equipment and streamlining efforts to realize savings.

In a statement accompanying the budget documents filed on Friday, Jindal said his plan continues to focus on job and economic growth as well as other critical needs.

"We are in the midst of an economic renaissance in Louisiana, and there are tens of thousands of jobs in the pipeline for our state," he said.

"Our next challenge is to make sure we have the skilled workforce to fill these jobs of the future," he added.

Jindal, a Republican, said his top priorities for the upcoming legislative session are to increase funds for higher education, kindergarten through 12th-grade schools, workforce training and health care services.

"The budget increases funding for health care and includes no provider rate cuts or reductions in Medicaid eligibility," he said.

"The bottom line is that this budget is further proof of our commitment to growing the private sector economy, making sure we have the most skilled workforce in the world, and caring for our most vulnerable citizens," the governor added.

Jindal's budget recommendations will be considered during the session, which begins March 10.

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