Louisiana Lawmakers Try to Balance Books

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State agencies would be hit with a second round of cuts to finish the rebalancing of Louisiana's budget after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, under a plan approved Sunday by a House committee.

The legislation would make $94 million in cuts, more than half of them because fewer services are needed after the storms displaced thousands of people.

The cuts, which go next to the full House for debate, would combine with other measures and budget reductions enacted by Governor Kathleen Blanco to rework spending, partially fill and fully balance the more than $18 billion budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.

The budget has a nearly $1 billion shortfall in state tax income after the hurricanes scattered taxpayers and closed businesses, and Louisiana is required to maintain a balanced budget.