The Senate has unveiled its funding plan for next fiscal year, and it does not call for any cuts to higher ed, prisons, and Department of Children and Family Services.

Senate President John Alario says their plan also fully funds the TOPS scholarship program.

“Besides fully funding TOPS, which is a good thing also, by restoring the 2 percent to higher ed, I think it’s the first time in 9 years that higher ed will not get a cut in their budgets,” Alario said.

The plan from the Upper Chamber puts $220 million back into the budget that the House wanted to hold back, which means funding can be restored for state agencies. DCFS was facing a cut that could have led to the loss of 67 child welfare workers. Alario says by not withholding 2 percent of the revenue forecast, they are able to fully fund the department.

“We were all concerned about foster children and those children who need to be rescued because of some cruelty being bestowed on them, and we were able to take care of that,” Alario said.

One agency that will face a cut is the Louisiana Department of Health, which will see a $34 million budget reduction. Deputy Secretary Michelle Alletto says $19 million of those cuts will fall primarily on mental health programs. But she says the department should be able to handle the cut.

“We think the industry can sustain the $19 million reduction through several reforms, most of which would make sure the right people that this treatment can benefit are entering the program,” Alletto said.

The budget was approved by the Senate Finance Committee and heads to the Senate floor for their approval. The budget disagreement between the House and Senate will likely be settled in a conference committee.

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