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Squabbling Over Crumbs

S. Lincoln

After the House approved cuts freeing up another $70-million for the upcoming budget Monday, they then squabbled over where to spend it – on TOPS, or on health care.

Prairieville Rep. Tony Bacala argued to put the money toward TOPS.

“The people who pay the taxes in this state don’t ask for a lot in return, but this one thing that they keep asking, ‘Could you please keep TOPS with us’?” Bacala said.

Bogalusa Rep. Malinda White took issue with Bacala’s voting record.

“We’ve had several instruments come before this House and you did not vote for the funding to fund TOPS and other things. So let’s get our priorities straight,” White admonished him.

“We talk a lot here about priorities. I believe we need to fully fund TOPS,” Baton Rouge Rep. Barry Ivey interjected. He then offered an amendment to the supplemental spending bill which shifted even more funding to TOPS.

“In the amendment we simply direct the Commissioner of Administration to reduce DHH funding by $87-million. I don’t tell the Division how to do it – just tells them to get it done,” Ivey said with a grin.

New Orleans Rep. John Bagneris took then took issue with Ivey’s record.

“Why do you never bring a revenue measure or instrument to the table? You’re always coming with a cut. Will you ever have one?” Bagneris asked.

“Did you bring one?” Ivey countered.

“Yeah, we have measures that bring…” Bagneris began, while Ivey kept talking over him.

“I voted for 200 and something million dollars!”  Ivey shouted over Bagneris, who was –by this time – shouting as well.

“Okay, okay, hold up!” Speaker Taylor Barras called.

“Don’t save him!” Bagneris replied to the Speaker, over Ivey’s continued arguing. “Don’t save him!”

“Representative Bagneris, please!” Barras admonished.

The Speaker got them sorted out, and Ivey’s amendment failed. 

The House-approved supplemental spending bill brings TOPS up to 70-percent of tuition and funds safety-net hopitals just enough to prevent reduction in services.

The Senate gets it next.