Legislature passes SAVE, budget approval seems likely

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BATON ROUGE — After a highly charged deadline day, the Louisiana legislature passed the SAVE program Thursday afternoon, which paves the way for a state budget deal.

The SAVE, Student Assessment for a Valuable Education, program means the budget is revenue neutral and key revenue bills that prevent cuts to higher education and health care will avoid vetoes by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

The provision was added to Senate Bill 93 by Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton. The Senate advanced the legislation to the governor by a 30-9 vote while the House passed it 59-43

SAVE is being created to hold up to $350 million in revenue that lawmakers approved this year. The provision allows for an assessment to be levied against all of Louisiana’s university and college students, on average $1,600 per student but no more than $2,100.

The students would never pay the assessment, but a corresponding tax credit would be transferred to the Board of Regents, a tax-exempt institution. The Board of Regents would then distribute the money in the SAVE fund to the state’s higher education institutions.

The program was controversial among lawmakers due to it’s creation seeming to be for the purpose of meeting Jindal’s demands of no tax increases.