- Associated Press - Monday, January 22, 2018

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Latest on Gov. John Bel Edwards‘ budget proposal for next year (all times local):

1 p.m.

Republican lawmakers are pushing back against suggestions they need to replace the entire $1 billion in expiring sales taxes to keep from enacting devastating cuts across Louisiana’s budget.

The comments came Monday as Gov. John Bel Edwards presented his worst-case scenario budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year to lawmakers. As required, the budget proposal assumes the taxes won’t be replaced.

Edwards is proposing to offset the expiring sales taxes with another tax package.

Rep. Rick Edmonds, of Baton Rouge, said changes to the federal tax code will generate additional dollars for the state treasury that should lower the budget gap.

Sen. Sharon Hewitt, of Slidell, says there are more opportunities to shrink the size of government. She questioned if the state needs to deliver all the services it currently offers.

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9:50 a.m.

The $25.3 billion worst-case scenario Louisiana operating budget outlined by Gov. John Bel Edwards would shutter health services and eliminate 80 percent of financing for the TOPS college tuition program.

Edwards‘ spending plan for the year beginning July 1 assumes lawmakers will refuse to replace $1 billion in expiring sales taxes and force widespread slashing across state government. He’s required to submit a budget accounting only for dollars expected to be available.

The Democratic governor hopes the cuts won’t happen, saying they would be devastating. Instead, Edwards wants lawmakers to pass a replacement tax package.

About two-thirds of the cut, $660 million, would hit health programs, ballooning to $2.3 billion with lost federal cash. TOPS would lose $233 million of its financing. College campuses would take an additional $26 million reduction.

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5 a.m.

Gov. John Bel Edwards is readying to unveil his worst-case scenario budget, which assumes lawmakers will refuse to replace $1 billion in expiring sales taxes and force widespread slashing across state government.

The Democrat warned the proposal would be devastating to Louisiana residents. He presents it to the Legislature’s joint budget committee Monday.

Edwards is required to submit a plan for the budget year starting July 1 that only accounts for the dollars expected to be available. The proposal won’t include expiring sales taxes Edwards wants replaced with other taxes.

He’s said cuts would balloon to $2.8 billion with lost federal matching dollars.

Public college campuses, the TOPS tuition program and safety-net health care programs are expected to face deep reductions.


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