Archive for June 22, 2011

‘Fate of revived cigarette tax uncertain’

The Advocate reports:

The fate of legislation that added the renewal of a 4-cent cigarette tax onto a constitutional amendment to dedicate more tobacco settlement dollars to merit-based TOPS scholarships sat in limbo Tuesday because of indecision on how to move forward.

Senate Bill 53 sponsor state Sen. John Alario, R-Westwego, said Tuesday he is still discussing with colleagues whether he wants to concur or reject the House amendments that tacked the cigarette tax renewal onto the bill.

Alario must address the matter before the legislative session ends Thursday.

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‘$25 billion budget bill sent to governor’

The Louisiana House of Representatives sent a $25 billion operating budget to Governor Bobby Jindal for his signature, the Advocate reported Wednesday. The bill strips out measures to reduce state employees’ pay and selling state prisons.

By agreeing to the Senate’s changes to House Bill 1 on a 101-0 vote, the House avoided a behind-the-scenes showdown to strike a compromise in the final days of the legislative session.

Budget approval without opposition with two days to spare is a rare occurrence in the state.

HB1 funds state government operations in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

“We have an instrument today that meets our needs (and) does not meet our wants,” said state Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, the budget bill’s sponsor.

Later in the day, Gov. Bobby Jindal praised the legislation as a budget that protects critical services such as health care and higher education. “The end result is a great budget for Louisiana,” the governor said.

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