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Lawsuit challenges Louisiana budget

By MELINDA DESLATTE
On January 18, 2013

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Jefferson Parish lawmakers lodged a legal challenge Tuesday against the state's $25 billion budget.
Republican Reps. Kirk Talbot and Cameron Henry filed the lawsuit, which is the latest salvo in an ongoing dispute that conservative House Republicans have with GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal over his use of one-time funding to pay for ongoing programs and services in state government.
The lawsuit says the budget is unconstitutional because it spends $240 million more from the state general fund than the amount recognized by the state's income forecasting panel and because it doesn't follow constitutional limits on spending money deemed "nonrecurring."
In the lawsuit, Talbot and Henry also take issue with the budget using dollars that haven't materialized, like $35 million from the sale or lease of the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital and $56 million in property insurance claims.
Jindal issued a statement Tuesday defending the budget as constitutional, noting it was approved by the Legislature and saying it "doesn't spend more money than the state takes in."
 The attorney general's office refused to issue an opinion because the office would be required to defend the budget in court in any lawsuit.
The Jindal administration said public colleges and health services would have faced devastating cuts without the funding, and a majority of lawmakers agreed to use the money to stave off the reductions. Senators voted unanimously for a budget that included the one-time money.
"It doesn't make sense to make unnecessary cuts to health care and higher education," the governor said.
Talbot said he hoped to get a ruling on the lawsuit before next year's 2013-14 budget is passed and the new fiscal year starts July 1.


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