Monday, June 22, 2009

Governor Jindal Says Agreement on the Budget is in the Works – by Robyn Ekings

Governor Bobby Jindal told reporters today that he believes there is a way that the administration and legislators could agree on a plan to restore over $200 million in proposed cuts to the state’s general operating budget.

The House and Senate have disagreed over methods to restore money for deep cuts to higher education, health care and other needs. The Governor says daily meetings with the leadership of both chambers and a review of funding mechanisms have convinced him that there is a way to break the budget gridlock before the legislature adjourns its session on Thursday.

“There is enough money to restore some cuts.” said Jindal, “There’s not an agreement yet, but I believe we’re closer than we’ve been.” The governor proposes that higher education be first on the list to receive at least $70 million from the list of funding sources the administration would like to use to restore cuts. The $200 million plus in money identified by Governor Jindal include about $86 million from the state’s so-called “Rainy Day Trust Fund,” $76 million from a special insurance fund and $20 million from a nursing home trust fund that would be used to address Medicaid needs.

The budget has been in the governor’s hands since last weekend, but rather than allowing Governor Jindal to balance it with his veto pen, lawmakers are attempting to cobble together a compromise on funding that will give them more of a voice in how the final budget is shaped.

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