BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's public colleges and public health care services started the legislative session in shaky financial shape, facing the risk of deep slashing in the coming months. As lawmakers passed the midpoint of their work, those programs face no greater financial certainty.

Budget-balancing remains the focal point for state lawmakers, who have yet to reach agreement on how to close a $1.6 billion shortfall.

Legislative leaders say they've made strides in their financial haggling, with the House planning to vote on a budget recommendation Thursday.

Five weeks of the legislative session are behind lawmakers. Four weeks remain.

Of the 845 bills filed in the House and 283 proposed in the Senate, only one measure has made it to Gov. Bobby Jindal: a bill enacting a sales tax exclusion in Calcasieu Parish.