- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 22, 2017

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

5 p.m.

Louisiana’s lawmakers are heading home, having ended their budget-rebalancing special session with a deal to close the $304 million deficit.

With the pieces of the deal approved, the House and Senate adjourned the session seven hours before Wednesday’s deadline.

A deal between the House, Senate and governor’s office had been struck in principle for days.



But House Speaker Taylor Barras had trouble pulling together the two-thirds vote of 70 lawmakers needed to take $99 million from the state’s “rainy day” fund. The legislation won support in the final hours of the session.

Other patchwork dollars will be used to fill gaps, and about $85 million in cuts will be levied on agencies.

Colleges, K-12 public schools and prisons will be protected. Cuts will fall heaviest on the state health department.

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4:50 p.m.

Louisiana’s lawmakers have reached a deal to close the state’s $304 million budget deficit.

The agreement won final support Wednesday with only hours to go before the budget-rebalancing special session must end.

After days of haggling, the arrangement will use $99 million from the state’s “rainy day” fund, tap into other available financing and make $80 million to $90 million in cuts to eliminate the budget gap with four months remaining in the financial year.

The question had largely been whether lawmakers in the House would agree to tap into the rainy day reserve account. The Senate earlier in the 10-day session had agreed to use of the fund for $99 million.

The House vote for the rainy day fund legislation Wednesday was overwhelming: 92-9. It required 70 votes to pass.

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8:30 a.m.

Louisiana’s deficit-closing special session has reached its final day, with legislative leaders and Gov. John Bel Edwards trying to save a deal to erase a $304 million deficit.

The session must end by midnight Wednesday. The main uncertainty is whether 70 lawmakers in the House will agree to tap into the state’s “rainy day” fund for $99 million. That’s the amount negotiated behind closed doors and passed by the Senate.

Some House leaders prefer to tap the reserve account for somewhere closer to $90 million. That small gap was among the major sticking points.

Edwards supports the $99 million - which is down from the nearly $120 million he originally supported. That amount is more than the $75 million the House initially offered.

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