BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The over $39 billion budget for the state has been approved by the legislature and now heads to the governor’s desk.
From how much teachers will get to what is being set aside for a new Mississippi River Bridge.
The budget passed out of the Senate this week with a number of amendments, including increased pay for healthcare providers and a final decision on how much money will be going towards a new Mississippi River Bridge in Baton Rouge.
Louisiana is in a place it rarely sees where there is a lot of extra money floating around. Lawmakers decided to invest largely in early childhood education, teacher pay raises, and infrastructure.
The final number being squirreled away for a new Mississippi River bridge in Baton Rouge is $300 million, short of the $500 million the governor put in his executive budget.
“It was hard for us to put any more money toward it. You don’t even have a site selected yet,” Sen. Bret Allain said. “So, you know, once we firmed up the plans and actually get, you know, a project that we know what the details are it’s kind of hard to fund a pig in a poke”
The Senate put millions of dollars towards higher education with a 3% pay raise for faculty. They will also be getting funds for deferred maintenance. Also in a new move, the Senate is giving millions to correctional officers, healthcare providers, and other critical positions in the state.
“It’s been decades since they’ve had any adjustments and pay, and that’s going to help make sure that we can not only keep people, but get people to come in and work for those entities like the Department of Children and Family Services and also Corrections,” Rep. Jerome Zeringue said.
Some are already raising the alarm for a potential fiscal cliff coming in 2025 due to taxes rolling off and the economy slowing down. The temporary half-cent sales tax sunsets that year and 60% of the vehicle tax will be shifted from the general fund to a construction fund. But leadership is confident their budget is responsible and they will be able to find ways to replace that revenue.
“If we get to 2025 and we don’t have the available dollars, we’re either going to have to cut programs which I think no one wants to do, or raise taxes, which is what no one wants to do,” Rep. Zeringue said.
Some lawmakers hope that by getting this budget passed with still over two weeks left in the regular session, they’ll be able to override any line item vetoes that may come down from the governor’s office during the regular session. But there is disagreement on if this is allowed under the state constitution.
Read a breakdown of the amendments and where the money is going here.