House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Sunday, May 20, 2012 7:03 PM
BATON ROUGE — House Speaker Chuck Kleckley said Thursday that the Senate will likely restore more than $200 million in one-time funds to the state’s $25 billion budget measure, House Bill 1.
“The question is how much,” said Kleckley, R-Lake Charles. “We just have to wait and see.”
Kleckley held his weekly news conference alongside House Appropriations Chairman Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro. Fannin spoke about House Bill 822, which the House approved Thursday. The bill — which directs money from dedicated state funds — was criticized by some lawmakers as being fiscally irresponsible.
Fannin said stripping one-time money would hurt critical services like higher education and health care.
“I’m not here to let (those programs) crash,” he said. “I think they’re pretty important to most everybody’s district in the state.”
Kleckley said McNeese State University President Philip Williams was against any additional cuts.
“He has called me on numerous occasions and told me, ‘You have cut us enough; there’s no room left,’ ” Kleckley said. “When you start hearing it every day from different sources, it helps you understand the tough financial challenges these folks are facing.”
Comments from U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., slamming the budget process have not “complicated the issue,” according to Kleckley.
“This issue has been around long before David Vitter got involved,” he said. “I think these (lawmakers) are very smart and they can make their decisions on their own.”
Both House Bill 1 and House Bill 822 have yet to be considered by the Senate.
If the budget that returns to the House from the Senate uses less than $300 million in one-time money, it could pass with a simple majority vote. Any more than that would require a two-thirds (70) House vote.
So far, the House has sent 562 bills to the Senate, and 199 bills were sent to Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Two weeks remain in the regular legislative session, which is scheduled to end by 6 p.m. June 4.