The state Legislature is back at work today. Just one week after ending a rocky special session, Gov. John Bel Edwards used his State of the State address to urge lawmakers to work together and move forward.
Edwards outlined his priorities for the 2018 regular session — including small business opportunities, sexual harassment prevention and increasing the state minimum wage to $8.50 per hour. He says it's a bold and diverse agenda that will require compromise — something lawmakers didn't achieve just one week ago in the special session.
Because lawmakers were unable to agree on how to raise revenue, they'll spend most of the next three months figuring out a way to cut nearly $700 million from the budget. Edwards challenged lawmakers who voted against raising revenue to offer up a solution to solve the budget gap.
"To those that say we can cut our way out of this, it's your time to step up to the plate and make the specific cuts that you insist can and should be made," Edwards said.
But the Governor wants to give lawmakers one last chance to raise revenue — and avoid deep budget cuts — with another special session. He encouraged lawmakers to move on from the partisanship that has plagued the body in recent weeks.
"If we will treat one another as colleagues and this body as a collegial body, we can actually find ways to come together and do those things that we agree upon," he said.
Edwards has requested that House and Senate leaders end the regular session in mid-May, which would allow time for a special session without costing taxpayer dollars.