Gov. Edwards, legislators ready for second special session to start

Louisiana State Capitol

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) – Lawmakers know their work is far from over. Although the regular session ends Monday, the second special session starts just 30 minutes after that.

The 17-day special session will go until midnight on Thursday, June 23.

Gov. John Bel Edwards is focused on filling the state’s $600 million budget gap which could mean raising taxes.

“We’re not growing government, but we have to responsibly find a way to fund our critical priorities,” Edwards said,

Political analyst Jim Engster said it’s either that or make cuts. Right now, the Department of Health and Hospitals and the TOPS program are in danger of getting slashed.

Engster said the Senate will most likely cooperate with tax increases, but the House is a different story.

“The governor has to get 70 votes in the House, that’s going to be tough for these tax measures,” Engster said. “But the House has to consider that these cuts have constituencies, particularly TOPS, and cuts to TOPS may not sit well with the electorate.”

Engster also said House members will have to consider the timing, since the next election is three years away.

“If there’s going to be a tax issue or a tax revenue enhancement, this is the time to do it,” Engster said. “They don’t want to do this in year two, three or four. So this is the time to do it and they probably hope they can get the job done and that by the time 2019 rolls around, this will be a long-forgotten move on their part.”

Edwards said he’s prepared to work with lawmakers, and when it comes to negotiations, he’s keeping his options open.

“It’s a process of compromise and negotiation and you have to have more things on the table than you, than you actually need because you don’t know exactly where the consensus is going to develop,” Edwards said.

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