The legislature’s bipartisan budget negotiations have yielded a late-night preliminary deal, struck after the legislature closed up shop on Monday. The plan will cut tax exemptions and reduce spending to curb the state's dependency on one-time funds.
Lawmakers face an onslaught of decisions every day at the capitol: vote up or down, pass this amendment, defer that bill... A few key players in this week's Medicaid expansion debate explain why they voted the way they did.
The legislature technically decided Wednesday to put off accepting federal funding for health care expansion, which would include more low-income individuals under Medicaid. A series of bills were voluntarily deferred, both in the House and Senate, to be taken up next week. A bill by Rep. Barbara Norton was involuntarily deferred - that’s typically a death sentence for a bill.
The representatives that voted to shelve Norton’s bill did so because they’re unsure of what will happen if they accept the money - despite that the Legislative Fiscal Office testifying that the program would initially save the state money.
Polls show that the people of Louisiana and the legislature are at odds. Tuesday a constitutional amendment to raise the cigarette tax failed in committee – though recent polls by the American Cancer Society show 73 percent of Louisianians would approve of a tobacco tax increase.