Any momentum to reach a budget deal in the House was lost on Monday. The body was set to vote on key tax and budget measures that had finally made it out of committee. But Speaker of the House Taylor Barras (R-New Iberia) told members he didn’t think the bills could pass the full House.
"Most of them take two-thirds votes, and I think we don't have that confidence today," he explained.
A handful of Republicans don't support raising taxes at all, so Barras needs Democrats' support to pass a temporary tax increase. But he’s getting pushback from the Legislative Black Caucus, who say a sales tax increase disproportionately impacts low-income residents.
Rep. Ted James (D-Baton Rouge) and other members of the Black Caucus met with Barras earlier in the day to express their concerns.
"We recognize that we cannot cut our way out of this," James told members of the House, "but we are not going to solve the problems we created by asking the poor and working poor to bail us out."
The caucus agrees with Rep. Walt Leger (D-New Orleans) who says revenue should be raised by making changes to income taxes, something, "that will be a stable source of revenue and that grows with the economy and provides the adequate revenues to be able to fund priorities."
With a handful of bills on the table, Barras wants a better idea of what Gov. Edwards would support.
"I'm just asking there be a little bit clearer direction from the Governor," he said.
Edwards says he's open to a new sales tax rate, but only if it's permanent. The Governor says he's committed to reaching a bipartisan solution, but the lack of movement in the House is frustrating.
"We ought to be sitting here trying to figure out how we maintain momentum and get this process to a conclusion," the governor said Monday.
The House is getting back to work on Wednesday.