Lawmakers Agree On Tax Bill, But Little Else, During Memorial Day Session

May 29, 2018

Lawmakers were at work on the Memorial Day holiday to try and solve the looming budget crisis.

A bill by Rep Lance Harris that failed on Friday was brought back for another vote. This time, it passed.

"It's a compromise and that's what we're looking for," said Harris.

If approved by the Senate, it will extend a third of the expiring one penny in sales tax for five years, and eliminate some sales tax breaks.

The bill will raise about $360 million next year — but that's not enough to meet the entire budget shortfall.

House Speaker Pro Temp Walt Leger said it was a great first step, but warns the legislature is facing a bigger challenge in this special session.

"We have no budget bill that has been moved at this point in the process," Leger noted.

Leger introduced his own budget — but the House appropriations committee has yet to schedule that bill for debate. He asked members to send his bill straight to the floor, bypassing the committee process.

"I'm presenting this body with an option, that option is we can move forward with the budget process and avoid having a seventh special session," he said.

But lawmakers were concerned about the constitutionality of Leger's bill, so they rejected the motion.

Rep. Cameron Henry offered a different option: override the Governor's veto on the budget that passed the legislature, and use that as a baseline.

"If it is vitally important for you to have a budget bill, this is your opportunity to have one," Henry said. "If this isn't the one you want you can change it in a supplemental bill."

But needing 70 votes to override a veto, that motion also failed.

Halfway through the special session — and with little progress to show — lawmakers are running out of time to find a fix to the fiscal cliff.