State House changes its tune on spending cap measure

Sends Senate resolution to Appropriations Committee, expect to receive budget bills Friday
Political Analyst Greg LaRose joined us to discuss the Senate-approved measure to bust through the state’s constitutionally-mandated expenditure limit.
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 7:50 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (KALB) - It has been a game of cat and mouse in the state capitol over the Senate-approved measure to bust through the state’s constitutionally-mandated expenditure limit, or spending cap.

On Wednesday night, the House voted 57-41 not to move the measure, SCR3, to the House Appropriations Committee to be considered, citing the absence of the Senate’s budget bills.

Just 24 hours later, the House sent SCR3 to Appropriations, despite impassioned objections over doing so the night before.

“I believe that this body would like to see House Bill 1 before we take up any action on SCR3,” said State Rep. Polly Thomas (R-District 80), who first took to the floor to object.

“How long are we going to get the opportunity to look at this budget that comes back from the Senate?” asked State Rep. Blake Migues (R-District 49). “Are we going to get 48 hours to review this bill, or is this the tactic from the Senate to jam us?”

The Senate has crafted a budget that exceeds the expenditure limit by more than $2 billion and includes funding for construction, infrastructure and teacher pay raises. The House plans stay under the expenditure limit and does not include teacher pay raises and limits infrastructure investments, favoring paying down on state pension debt.

The two versions of the budget have not only met two different approaches but also a limited amount of time.

”Time is something that plays a heavy toll on what happens in this body,” said House Speaker Clay Schexnayder (R-District 81). “When you start delaying instruments and you start putting us in a time restraint, we start having to look at instruments almost blind.”

Schexnayder urged House members to move the measure forward Wednesday due to concerns over time constraints.

The majority, however, felt that they could not vote on a measure impacting the budget, even to send it to a committee, without having first seen the budget bills.

“It doesn’t tell us how. It doesn’t tell us projects. It doesn’t really tell us anything. So, I cannot vote for something I don’t know what it is, and that’s basically what they were asking us to do,” said State Rep. Daryl Deshotel (R-District 28). “So we said, ‘No, we’re not going to hear it in committee until we see HB1 and HB2 return from the Senate.’”

Technically that will be the case. The Senate Finance Committee is expected to send the House Appropriations Committee HB1 and HB2, which are the budget bills, before the meeting begins. If that happens, the House will have received the bills before taking up the expenditure limit measure.

The 2023 legislative session must end by June 8 at 6 p.m., and lawmakers must have a budget by that point, or they will have to convene for a special session.

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