LA Sen. Jack Donahue

“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.

S. Lincoln

After the Senate Finance Committee advanced HB 122 Thursday -- with less draconian cuts than its author Cameron Henry wanted -- the full House did pass the cigarette tax hike.

“It would bring in an additional 16 million in fiscal year ‘16; $47-million in fiscal year ’17,” its author, Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger explained.

But the House did little else to advance bills for alleviating the state budget shortfalls.

Over on the Senate floor, though, the stress of that little progress was showing as senators worked through the limited options passed on by the House.

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Louisiana’s Democratic governor is revving his engines,  responding to Republicans revving theirs.

“It is time to stop living in Fantasyland. It is time to stop pretending things are better than they are,” Governor John Bel Edwards says in response to statements made by Republican lawmakers as well as the state Republican Party.

Last week, Republican Senator Jack Donahue, the former chair of the Senate Finance committee, intimated the budget shortfall is fiction since the revenue estimating conference has yet to recognize it.

“Right now, it doesn’t exist,” he said during a briefing on the current budget situation.

Sue Lincoln

The Senate Finance Committee met Thursday to get an update on the state budget crisis.

“It’s almost all minus signs,” Legislative Fiscal Analyst Greg Albrecht told lawmakers, with a sigh.

Senate Finance Chairman Eric LaFleur asked for details on how this happened, and Albrecht ran it down.

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“How many people would be eligible in Louisiana?” Senate Finance Committee chairman Jack Donahue asked state health officials Monday.

More than half a million was the response.

“We would say that’s probably worst-case scenario,” DHH Undersecretary Jeff Reynolds added.

But there was more, as the committee was reminded the federal government is reducing Louisiana’s total funding for indigent care, beginning in January 2018.

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