With four bangs of the gavel and the call of, “The House will come to order,” Louisiana’s legislature convened in special session last evening.
They have ten days to deal with the $304-million shortfall., and as usual, the governor addressed the joint chambers, to explain why he called them all in.
“We’re here tonight because revenue has lagged the forecast upon which the budget was based,” Governor John Bel Edwards began simply.
But as he continued, his exasperation with a certain group of oppositional House members became evident.
“We’re operating under the budget you passed and that I signed into law, that started the fiscal year $326-million short of the funding needed to provide the same level of services to the people of Louisiana this year as we did last fiscal year.
“Until we make the structural budget and tax reforms we all agree we need, our options are limited. When we meet here in April, we will have the opportunity to close the structural budget deficit for good. But unfortunately, we are not there yet. The sun is not yet shining.”
And he urged them to use the Rainy Day Fund, to take care of business now.
“It is counter-productive to constantly criticize and oppose, without offering a viable alternative,” Edwards remonstrated, then added, “I will compromise with you. And so I’ll just request that we get to work.”
To start, the House will be handling the budget revisions, both cuts and changes in use of available funds. The Senate starts work on the resolution to utilize $119-million of the Rainy Day Fund.
The House swore in two new members last night, but the Senate will be using this session to potentially remove one of their members, as they accepted a “resolution to expel Senator Troy Brown from the Louisiana Senate.”
Brown has recently been charged twice with battery related to domestic abuse, pleading no contest in one case and guilty in the other. He served jail time last month.