Ideas flourish to spend surplus and amnesty money

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – After years of divvying up budget cuts, state lawmakers have a pleasant financial problem: They have to decide how to spend as much as $300 million in unallocated cash from Louisiana's treasury.

The dollars include a surplus from the last fiscal year and excess collections from a recent tax amnesty period that generated more than expected.

Disputes are already burgeoning about how to allocate the money. The state has a list of needs far surpassing available income.

Some people are eyeing the money for long-stalled highway projects. Others think the state's “rainy day” fund should be replenished. Some lawmakers want to help Louisiana's public colleges after six years of state budget cuts.

Final plans won't be decided until lawmakers return for their next regular session, which begins in March.

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