Governor's cuts altered in budget

As the doors closed after the final day of the 2009 Louisiana legislative session, many lawmakers agreed that altering Governor Bobby Jindal’s proposed budget cuts to higher education and health care was the best thing accomplished.

Although lawmakers struggled to find a compromise, one was reached just in the nick of time, because for several days, House and Senate members disagreed on the proposed state budget.

This budget, made up of $28 billion, took into account a $1.3 billion drop in projected state revenue for the fiscal year to begin in July, with higher education and health care suffering the brunt of the cuts.

“This has not been a pretty session,” said state Senator Rob Marionneaux, chairman of the Senate’s tax-writing committee. “Those who have said it is real easy to cut $1 billion out of the budget realized it’ not so easy.”

New legislators on a “learning curve” and political partisanship in the House were two of the largest barriers that had to be overcome throughout the session. Also, a few legislators expressed their opinion on other issues.

“I was frankly disappointed with the lack of leadership,” said Senator Dan Claitor of Baton Rouge. “I think it’s the general public perception as well.”

He then added, “That doesn’t mean I don’t support the governor or want to see him be successful.”

Others, such as State Representative Bodi White of Central, expressed their happiness, “We did it this year without raising taxes and by downsizing in the least painful way we could.”

Some legislators proposed the idea of a fall special session, depending on the fallout that comes as remaining budget cuts in higher education and health care are felt.

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