The fate of next year’s budget rests in the hands of a few legislative leaders, picked by the chambers’ chairs to sort things out behind closed-doors.
This year is a little different than years past.
First, the House changed some rules so that more voices could be at the table for the final negotiations.
And there are more pieces to the puzzle than just House Bill 1, the bill that outlines the budget. There’s also a package that would change the budget process and bills that generate money for the budget.
One of the groups with a seat at the table is the fiscal hawks. They’re a bipartisan fiscally conservative minority. They want to use only money that’s guaranteed year after year for annual expenses.
Rep. Cameron Henry represents their budget process reform package in the negotiations.
"Those budget bills will have long-term effects," Rep. Henry said to a gaggle of press in House antechamber, "to help the state in the long-term. They aren’t a one-time fix. They’re a structural change in the budget process, which we think is very important."
Rep. Joel Robideaux is authoring the money-generating bills and has the power to keep them from being debated until Senate negotiators accept the hawks’ package.
"If people are dug in on House Bill 1, then fine. I’m not giving them the money to fund House Bill 1. Start negotiating," Robideaux said, "You negotiate in good faith, I’ll bring ‘em off the calendar."
Robideaux added that negotiations were off to a good start Tuesday.
House negotiators want to tie the bills together, like they were when they left the House, so that if Gov. Jindal wants to veto any one of them, they all fail, spurring a special session.
Robideaux began the session sponsoring the governor’s tax reform package. His 180 exemplifies the legislature’s pivot away from the Jindal administration this session.