Focusing On Long-Term Reform Could Give Legislature A Second Chance

Mar 7, 2018

Legislators are moving on from a failed special session to focus on the regular session that starts Monday.

Robert Travis Scott is President of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, a non-partisan public policy group. Despite the collapse of the special session, Scott says there's still progress to be made over the next few months. 

"There are some good things that you could start doing in this regular session. Now you can’t deal with taxes to any great extent," he explains, "but you could start looking at some of the spending reforms."

He says focusing on long-term reform, rather than taxes, could give the Legislature a chance to work past the deep divide that was on display over the last two weeks, as Legislators were unable to break an impasse over how to raise revenue.

"They should find something that this Legislature — especially on the House side — something they can all get behind and show that they can accomplish something and show that they’re not completely inept at cooperating and trying to form compromises," he says.

Legislators will spend the upcoming session creating the state's budget for next fiscal year, but they have about $700 million less to spend.

Gov. John Bel Edwards has already spoken to leaders in the House and Senate about a second special session that would end in June, giving Legislators one last chance to try and replace revenue in order to avoid deep cuts.

Scott says by that time, lawmakers will have had the chance to try and build back some trust.

"We have a lot of problems in this state," he explains.  "We have a lot of opportunities in this regular session to take real, long-term reforms to address some of those things — and I’m not just talking about taxes. But has the special session and this atmosphere poisoned things so badly that we’re not going to be able to cooperate on anything? That’s the real concern that we have."