Deadline Approaching For February Special Session

Feb 2, 2018

It remains to be seen how the state will address the budget shortfall for next fiscal year, when more than a billion dollars in tax increases expire. 

The way Gov. John Bel Edwards sees it, time is running short.

"We literally have about a week, a little less than a week to get it figured out, at least to the point where we're confident that there's been enough progress towards an agreement in principle.  Quite frankly, we are not there right now," the Governor said Thursday.  

He's looking for a deal with the republican-controlled House to replace $994 million of the revenue that will be lost on July 1. But so far, the House has been hesitant to agree to that plan.

Earlier this week, Speaker of the House Taylor Barras (R-New Iberia) sent a letter to Edwards, explaining that in order to consider raising more revenue, many in the House want to see Louisiana change its spending habits by putting a harder cap on the state's spending limit and making changes to the Medicaid program.

They're also calling for a transparency website — Louisiana Checkbook — so that citizens can better track state spending. Pointing to a recent study by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Edwards says Louisiana already has high marks in that area.

"We already have the seventh most transparent state when it comes to allowing citizens to check the expenditures. So I'm not opposed to more transparency," he explained. 

Edwards called Speaker Barras' letter a step in the right direction, but he says those recommendations don't do anything to address the budget shortfall, and "until they put those on the table, there really aren't negotiations."

Because state law prevents lawmakers from raising revenue in the upcoming March legislative session, Gov. Edwards wants to see a special session this month. And his deadline to make that call is fast approaching.

"There's a real hard date of the middle of next week," he said, "because you have to have eight days between when I would issue the call and when it can start."