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Edwards unveils $25.3B Louisiana budget with deep cuts to TOPS, health care programs

Only months away from the expiration of $1 billion in state sales taxes, Gov. John Bel Edwards released his worst-case-scenario budget today, a spending plan that would end many of Louisiana’s safety-net health programs and strip 80% of the financing for the beloved TOPS program that helps students pay for college.

“I am confident that none of you will want to be sending this budget to my desk for approval,” Edwards told the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. “I don’t think it is possible to pass a budget, in fact, that makes cuts at this level.”

The Democratic governor is required to submit a spending plan for the budget year starting July 1 that only accounts for the dollars expected to be available. The proposal doesn’t include temporary sales taxes that expire when the new financial year begins that Edwards wants replaced with other taxes.

Louisiana’s operating budget would fall from $28.1 billion this year to $25.3 billion next year with the loss of federal matching dollars and other revenue sources that would be eliminated with the state tax cuts proposed. Total expenditures across the package of budget bills would fall from $30.2 billion to $27.4 billion.

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