- Associated Press - Saturday, June 3, 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Latest on legislative work to craft next year’s Louisiana operating budget (all times local):

11:50 a.m.

With little disagreement or haggling, senators have agreed on their version of a $29 billion plan to finance Louisiana state government agencies next year.

The proposal would shield public colleges, the TOPS free college tuition program, state prisons and the child welfare agency from cuts. It would spend more money than the House’s budget recommendation.

House Republicans proposed to spend $206 million less than the state income forecast predicts will be available, as a cushion in case the forecast is too optimistic. Senators want to spend every dollar available, suggesting that without it, agencies would face unnecessary cuts that could damage critical services.

The Senate’s 36-1 vote Saturday begins the final negotiations with the House, with lawmakers hoping they can reach a deal before the legislative session ends Thursday.

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10:30 a.m.

Louisiana senators are debating a $29 billion state government operating budget for next year that would shield higher education programs, prisons and the child welfare agency from cuts.

The spending plans up for Senate debate Saturday use more money than the budget supported by the House.

House Republicans proposed to spend $206 million less than the state income forecast predicts will be available, as a cushion in case the forecast is too optimistic.

Senators are proposing to spend every dollar available, suggesting that without it, agencies would face unnecessary cuts that could damage critical services.

After the Senate puts the finishing touches on its proposal and passes it, that will set up final negotiations with the House in the hopes of striking a deal before the legislative session ends Thursday.

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