The Louisiana Senate Finance Committee gave their approval Monday to a package of bills that would make it easier for the state to use money in the rainy-day fund and other resources in response to declining revenues that are expected to continue to fall for another two years.

Commissioner of Administration Angèle Davis told senators that Gov. Bobby Jindal wants to use the money to help balance the fiscal 2011 and 2012 budgets. She said revenue is expected to fall $3 billion from fiscal 2009 through 2012. The measures are constitutional amendments that would require two-thirds approval in the Legislature and a vote by the people in November. The Senate will consider the six-bill package next week.

Two bills allow the use of the rainy-day fund when federal funds slip. The constitution currently allows the fund to be tapped only when revenues drop. Two of the bills increase the level to which agency budgets can be cut from 5% to a percentage approved by the Legislature, and allocate an additional $30 million a year to health care agencies from the state’s tobacco settlement revenue.

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