The Louisiana legislative session finished up on Thursday, June 24, marking the end of two-months worth of debate over issues such as taxes, abortion, education and more – but one thing there was little debate over was the $25 billion operating budget, lauded as a success by Republicans and Democrats alike.
The budget managed to balance without hurting either healthcare, education, or safety, and it managed to meet specific spending targets outlined by Gov. Bobby Jindal. Still, the legislature rejected many of the financing proposals by the governor, such as selling three state prisons and merging two universities, UNO and SUNO. Despite these political setbacks for Jindal, he spoke well of both the legislature and Louisiana’s current state of affairs.
“We are in the middle of maybe the greatest fiscal recession this state has seen,” Jindal told the Times-Picayune. “Yet we emerged with a balanced budget that protects health care, education and public safety.”
“In December, Louisiana was the only state in the country to add jobs,” Jindal said in a speech to the Legislature. “In January we were the only state in the country where the unemployment rate went down, not up. And again in February, we were the only state in the country that added jobs. Last Friday, new numbers came out showing yet again, compared year over year Louisiana added thousands of jobs.”
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who traveled to Baton Rouge nearly every Wednesday during the legislative session, was also satisfied with the session’s conclusion.
“The City of New Orleans had a very successful session—one which will provide new revenue for our City budget, one that provides new funding for our New Orleans East Hospital and a key drainage project and one that helps move our recovery forward by extending tax credits for projects like the Saenger Theatre,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “I would like to thank the entire Orleans delegation, especially our floor leaders Senator Ed Murray and Representative Walt Leger, whose leadership and hard work have delivered results for our residents and businesses.”
As the legislative session came to an end, one bill failed to reach the finish line, a bill by John LaBruzzo, and supported by the Louisiana Family Forum, that would have declared abortion illegal in Louisiana and, in turn, would have cost the Louisiana budget $4.5 billion in federal Medicaid money. LaBruzzo’s other bill, which would drug test adults receiving government aid, also failed the test.
Another bill backed by the Louisiana Family Forum made it through the House but not the Senate. This bill would have further pushed religion in the science classroom by gutting the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s ability to choose which books get used in classrooms, thereby allowing local schools the unfettered ability to purchase, with no spending limit, books with creationist agendas.