Gov. John Bel Edwards took to the House floor Monday evening to address members of both chambers. The Legislature is officially in a special session and has until March 7 to try and solve Louisiana's budget crisis.
The state's revenue is set to drop by more than $1 billion on July 1 if the Legislature doesn't act. Gov. Edwards says the solution should involve finding more money.
His request, he says, is "that we replace — not raise, but replace — a portion of the revenue that is scheduled to fall off the books."
Edwards' plan is to replace nearly $1 billion through additional tax measures, and "calls for lowering the state sales tax and implementing many of the reforms that your task force recommended."
He's referring to the task force on Structural Changes in Budget and Tax Policy, created by the Legislature in 2016 to recommend ways the state could stabilize its revenue. Those recommendations failed to get support in the House last session.
That's where the Governor's plan to address this fiscal crisis will face its biggest challenge. Some GOP Representatives say they'll only consider raising taxes in exchange for limiting the amount of money the state can spend. It remains to be seen which tax increases the House could support.
"I recognize that these are tough decisions. The ability to compromise will be essential to our success," says the Governor.
Edwards warns that if the Legislature can't figure out a way to address this budget problem, they'll be forced to make massive cuts to health care and higher education, "precisely the two areas of government that people all across the state consistently tell me over and over again that they don’t want to see cut."
This is the fifth time Edwards has called a special session while in office.