- Associated Press - Friday, February 17, 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Latest on the budget-rebalancing special legislative session (all times local):

6:10 p.m.

The Louisiana House has narrowly backed a budget cut proposal that would add another $55 million to the reductions sought by Gov. John Bel Edwards to close a state deficit.

The proposal by Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry would cut $115 million from the state operating budget, much of it from the health department, over the remaining four months of the financial year.

The measure approved Friday in a 57-39 vote heads next to the Senate for consideration. The special session must end Wednesday.



Rather than use the $120 million available from Louisiana’s “rainy day” fund, Henry’s proposal assumes lawmakers would tap into the savings account for $75 million.

Democrats objected to not using the full rainy day amount, while some conservative Republicans don’t like using any of the reserve account.

___

2:30 p.m.

A state lawmaker has shelved his budget-rebalancing proposal to slash $188 million from state spending over the remaining four months of the financial year.

After two hours of debate, Republican Rep. Rick Edmonds pulled his plan from House floor discussion without a vote.

The House is instead taking up a different cut proposal with fewer reductions than Edmonds sought, a proposal by Republican Rep. Cameron Henry.

Edmonds’ bill proposed cutting $128 million more than Gov. John Bel Edwards wants to reduce to help eliminate Louisiana’s deficit - and wouldn’t use the state’s “rainy day” fund at all.

Henry’s bill being debated Friday would use $75 million of the reserves, still less than the $120 million Edwards wants.

House debate comes as the session hit its midpoint. It must end Wednesday.

___

11:30 a.m.

Louisiana House lawmakers are debating a budget-rebalancing proposal to slash $188 million from state spending over the remaining four months of the financial year.

That’s $128 million more than Gov. John Bel Edwards wants to cut to help eliminate Louisiana’s deficit.

Republican Rep. Rick Edmonds, of Baton Rouge, said although some reductions in his bill could be painful, “we find ourselves in desperate times.”

Democratic Rep. Walt Leger, of New Orleans, said Edmonds’ proposal would make deeper cuts than needed, because it doesn’t use $120 million available from Louisiana’s “rainy day” fund.

Edwards wants to use the reserves. But some House Republicans say Louisiana needs to permanently pare spending, rather than use a savings account.

House debate Friday comes as the 10-day session hit its midpoint. It must end Wednesday.

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