By MELINDA DESLATTE
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana state senators are advancing a $29 billion operating budget proposal that avoids steep cuts to health services and college programs. The spending plan assumes lawmakers will agree to raise more taxes for next year than the House has supported.
The budget proposal advanced Saturday by the Senate Finance Committee relies on $540 million in tax renewals for the financial year starting July 1. The House has supported $400 million.
The TOPS program would fully cover college tuition costs. College campuses, the child-welfare agency, safety-net hospitals, nursing home residents and programs for the disabled would be protected. Corrections officers would get a pay raise.
Other areas, such as the Office of Juvenile Justice, would take cuts.
Lawmakers have until Monday to reach a final deal on the budget and taxes.