Governor John Bel Edwards presented his proposed budget for the next fiscal year to lawmakers today. The proposal contains $792 million in cuts to state spending. Under the proposed spending plan, health care and the TOPS scholarship program would see big reductions in state funding. Edwards says this is not the budget he wanted to present to lawmakers and it’s why another special session is needed.

“I believe we need more revenue, and as you know, I’ve already said that there will be a second special session to address these revenue needs,” Edwards said.

The governor says a second special session could begin as early as June 7. Edwards says many state services are now severely underfunded, such as TOPS, which under this plan would receive a $183 million cut. He says only having a third of the money needed to pay for TOPS is another reason why they need a second special session.

“TOPS is an important program. It has been very successful. I think we’re all committed to it, and we want to fund it,” Edwards said.

The governor is proposing a $46 million cut to higher education. Edwards says not only is higher ed receiving looking at another cut in funding, but so are public schools.

“It pains me greatly to sit here before you, proposing a reduction of $50 million for K through 12 education,” Edwards said.

Edwards is calling for a new task force to help develop long term budget solutions.