2016 Special Session

Still Short of Funding, 2nd Special Session Ends

Jun 24, 2016
Sue Lincoln

  Governor John Bel Edwards tried to put a good face on it.

“I am extremely pleased with where we are, considering where we started. And while we may have come up short in a few ways, we made difficult choices and we made tremendous progress,” the Governor said, during a press conference a few minutes after the session’s close.

Yet when lawmakers adjourned the 2nd special session, they were still $350-million short of what was needed for the budget that begins July first, and the chasm between the House and Senate had widened.

Final Day: Same Objections

Jun 23, 2016

“At this point, we do not have the luxury of amending this bill,” Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs chairman J.P. Morrell told the Senate, so on this final day of the special session, House Bill 50 was considered without an expected amendment that could have raised another $88-million.

“House Bill 50 simply changes the way the capital gains tax is able to be refunded,” Jennings Senator Blade Morris explained.

Last Day, Last Chance

Jun 23, 2016

This is the final day of the second special session, and it must end by midnight tonight.

“We’re going to ask you to come in for 9 a.m.; be prepared to stay the day,” Senate President John Alario warned the upper chamber last evening. “More than likely we’ll be in and out with some long recesses in between.”

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The Senate Finance committee met Wednesday to amend the supplemental appropriations bill, which allocates the money raised during this special session.  

The session must end no later than midnight Thursday.  At this point, says Senate Finance Chairman Eric LaFleur (D-Ville Platte), $258 million of additional revenue has been found.  

Explaining The Thinking

Jun 21, 2016

Despite everything we’ve heard from the Edwards’ administration about the depth of Louisiana’s budget shortages, it’s quite clear now: the House leadership is done considering any more revenue-raising measures.

“We raised a couple hundred million dollars, so there’s enough money to put towards TOPS; there’s also enough money to put toward the private-public partnerships for the hospitals. So it’s not all gloom and doom.”

Squabbling Over Crumbs

Jun 21, 2016
S. Lincoln

After the House approved cuts freeing up another $70-million for the upcoming budget Monday, they then squabbled over where to spend it – on TOPS, or on health care.

Prairieville Rep. Tony Bacala argued to put the money toward TOPS.

One Down, Two To Go

Jun 20, 2016

“We only have 3 opportunities before us to possibly fund the vital services that we need in all of our communities,” Bogalusa Rep. Malinda White reminded her colleagues. 

Her HB 38 was one of those opportunities, and the full House took it up Sunday evening. The bill would reduce the amount of federal excess itemized deductions allowed on state returns.

Business Tax Collections Down; Budget Hole Widens

Jun 17, 2016
Sue Lincoln

A clearly weary Governor John Bel Edwards met with the press today to discuss the status of the state’s finances and the special session seeking to address them.

Edwards said he keeps meeting with lawmakers, but some of them keep singing the same song.

“Legislators are somehow hoping that money is just going to show up,” the Governor said. “I learned a long time ago that hoping is not really a course of action.”

Senate Rises To The Challenge: Will The House?

Jun 17, 2016
Sue Lincoln

In the space of two hours, the full Senate did some heavy lifting Thursday. It took just two minutes to okay the much-delayed capital outlay bill.

“Hopefully this will be the final HB 2 of 2016,” Senate Revenue and Fisc chair J.P. Morrell said, with a sigh.

Tarnishing Clean Pennies -- For A Good Cause

Jun 16, 2016

Sales tax on Girl Scout cookies, on sodas sold by band boosters at high school football games, even sales tax on tickets to public radio events: all are what are being termed “unforeseen consequences of the suspension of sales tax exemption.”

That’s the so-called “cleaning” of the sales tax pennies passed during the first special session, earlier this year.

“The idea is to put all these various groups back the way they were before that session,” Senator J.P. Morrell explains.