La. Legislature passes $39B budget

State Rep. Jerome Zeringue, R-Houma, helped create the state budget as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. (Photo by Elizabeth Garner / LSU Manship School News Service)

BATON ROUGE — The House gave final legislative approval to a bundle of budget bills on Thursday that include funds for $1,500 pay raises for K-12 teachers and $300 million for a new Mississippi River bridge in Baton Rouge.

The basic package had already cleared the House, but amendments made by the Senate had to be concurred.

In one of the nine bills, the House advanced the $39 billion state operating budget on a bipartisan 88-7 vote, with one Democrat, state Rep. Wilford Carter of Lake Charles, and six Republicans voting against the bill.

The Republicans were state Reps. Raymond Garofalo of Chalmette, Kathy Edmonston of Gonzales, Barry Ivey of Central, Julie Emerson of Carenco, Danny McCormick of Oil City and Blake Miguez of Erath.

The six Republicans, representing the conservative faction of the Legislature, raised concerns about one-time funds being used for recurring expenditures.

The Legislature found itself in a unique position this year. For years, the state faced budget problems, at times teetering on the edge of a fiscal cliff. Due to hundreds of millions of dollars in increased state revenues and billions in federal pandemic aid, Louisiana is flush with cash, giving lawmakers a once-in-a-political lifetime