The Latest: Louisiana budget battle heads to special session

Update: The special session adjourned for the evening.

6:40 p.m.

Louisiana lawmakers have opened a 12-day special legislative session to try to resolve their differences over next year’s $28 billion-plus operating budget.

The session began Thursday night, 30 minutes after the House and Senate were unable to reach an agreement on the budget bill in the final hours of the two-month regular legislative session.

House Republican leadership and the Senate couldn’t come to terms on how much money to spend in the financial year beginning July 1. House Democrats sought to take up a Senate spending proposal, but they were blocked procedurally by Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras. As the time wound down, angry Democrats shouted on the House floor: “Let’s vote!”

Both sides pointed fingers at each other.

The special session must adjourn by June 19.

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Latest on the Louisiana Legislature’s budget negotiations (all times local):

6 p.m.

Louisiana lawmakers didn’t resolve an impasse on the state’s must-pass budget bills before time ran out in the legislative session. They’ll head into a special session to try to strike a compromise.

In the final hours Thursday of the regular session, House and Senate leaders couldn’t settle disagreements over a more than $28 billion spending plan to finance state agencies, public services and colleges in the financial year beginning July 1.

Both sides pointed fingers at each other.

House Republican leaders want to spend less than the full state income forecast, as a cushion to avoid midyear cuts in case the predictions were wrong. The Senate, backed by Gov. John Bel Edwards and House Democrats, want to spend all available dollars, saying otherwise they’d have to make unnecessary, harmful cuts.


9 a.m.

Louisiana lawmakers have reached the final day of the legislative session still squabbling over must-pass budget bills.

The House and Senate are in sharp disagreement about how much money to spend and are trying to broker a compromise before the session ends Thursday at 6 p.m.

Awaiting final passage are measures to pay for state government agencies, public services and colleges in the fiscal year that begins July 1 and to finance construction projects around Louisiana.

Gov. John Bel Edwards has called a precautionary special session to begin a half-hour later in case a budget agreement isn’t complete.

Legislative leaders had said they didn’t expect the extra time to be needed, but with financial negotiations at an impasse, there were increased questions about that assumption.

Negotiations continued behind closed doors.

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