Lawmakers finalize $34 billion state budget on final day of session

Published: June 30, 2020

By: Kathleen Peppo, LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE–Lawmakers agreed Tuesday on a $34 billion state budget that provides hundreds of millions for businesses hurt by the COVID-19 shutdown but freezes $60 million in pay raises for state employees and cuts funding for colleges that also are struggling financially.

As a 30-day special session was nearing an end, the House agreed to a Senate proposal to temporarily set aside the pay raises for state employees and review in November whether tax collections had rebounded enough to provide them.

If the economy remains stagnant or depressed, the money will be used to fill holes in the budget.

In addition to nearly $800 million in federal coronavirus aid money and the money saved on pay raises, lawmakers also will use $90 million from the state’s rainy-day fund to plug budgetary holes.

Still, the budget, which covers the fiscal year that starts Wednesday, includes cuts in state spending on higher education.

Leaders of the various university systems have said that their costs and lost revenues associated with the coronavirus far exceed the amount of direct aid that they are receiving from the federal government, leaving them in a difficult position.

Read more at houmatimes.com

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