BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's  senators have started piecing together their proposal to balance next year's budget without forcing deep cuts to public colleges and health services.

The Senate Finance Committee late Tuesday tweaked and then passed eight House-approved tax bills, aimed at raising revenue for next year's $24 billion budget.

As passed by the House, the bills would generate $615 million next year, most of it used to stop cuts to higher education.

Finance Committee Chairman Jack Donahue says senators are trying to generate $250 million more to keep health services and the LSU medical schools from steep reductions.

Senators got $100 million more by bumping up a cigarette tax proposal. They doubled the 32-cent per-pack increase approved by the House and added new tax hikes on cigars, smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes.


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