- Associated Press - Thursday, May 4, 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Latest on the Louisiana House budget debate (all times local):

3 p.m.

The Louisiana House has backed a nearly $29 billion budget for next year that significantly scales back the spending sought by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

The 63-40 vote for passage Thursday fell largely along partisan lines, with Republicans supporting the smaller spending plan and Democrats opposed.

Republicans cut spending sought by Edwards across agencies. Heaviest hits would be taken by the health, education, prisons, public safety and child welfare departments. They fully funded the TOPS tuition program at the expense of health care.

The proposal, headed next to the Senate, uses $235 million less in state tax dollars than Louisiana is projected to receive.

GOP leaders say the effort is a hedge against expectations the projections were too optimistic. Edwards and Democrats say the reduction causes unnecessary harm to agencies.

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10 a.m.

The Louisiana House is having an all-day debate about a nearly $29 billion state operating budget proposed for next year.

Republicans and Democrats have sharp disagreements over spending plans for the year that begins July 1, including over how much money to allocate for programs and services.

GOP House leaders crafted a proposal that favors the TOPS college tuition program over health services for the poor and that spends $235 million less in state tax dollars than projected to be available.

Gov. John Bel Edwards‘ administration and Democratic lawmakers say the scaled-back proposal is irresponsible and heartless. They want to spend the full amount of financing forecast for next year.

Whatever is approved after Thursday’s debate heads next to the Senate, where the budget likely will get a heavy rewrite.

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