Governor Edwards on Wednesday announced that he has signed the state's budget for the FY 2020-2021 operating year.
The state House and Senate approved the $34 billion spending plan on June 30, the final day of a 30-day special legislative session. The budget sets aside funding for healthcare, workforce and education services that are needed during the pandemic.
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Edwards announced that he has ordered cabinet agencies to prepare for possible mid-year budget cuts by sequestering at least 10 percent of their budgets, and recommends the same for the judicial and legislative branches. He will also issue an executive order to freeze hiring of state employees.
"Right now our budget is in a far better shape than we could have hoped just three months ago, with funding for critical services in place as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and see case counts as well as hospitalizations rising. I have directed state agencies to prepare for possible mid-year cuts and, we will continue working with the Legislature to make any adjustments that may be necessary this fall," Gov. Edwards said. "While there are cuts in the budget, federal CARES act funding allowed us to avoid making them even more catastrophic. In addition, we were able to invest CARES act funding into programs for local governments, aid to businesses and direct payments to essential frontline workers."
The governor also vetoed a legislative effort to withhold $57 million for salary hikes for state workers. According to The Associated Press, lawmakers attempted to stall the pay raises by freezing the money and ordering agencies not to dole out increases, citing the state's financial uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic. They said it "seemed inappropriate to give pay raises to public employees while private sector workers were struggling so much in the outbreak," reports The Associated Press.
"Gov. Edwards vetoed a provision that impermissibly delayed pay raises for classified state employees and other provisions that sequestered funds appropriated to the executive branch, but not funds appropriated to the legislative and judicial branches. He also vetoed more than $9 million in new spending, as well as a provision contrary to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidelines that would negatively impact the Louisiana Department of Health and require the expenditure of more than $10 million of state general fund plus $32 million of federal funds," reads a release from Gov. Edwards' office.
Click here to read the veto letter.
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