Governor John Bel Edwards has put out the call for a
special session that would begin May 22nd, and end June 4th. During the special
session, revenue could be raised that would potentially plug the 648 million
dollar state budget shortfall resulting from expiring sales taxes. The February
special session fell apart just days into the process, but Edwards is
optimistic that the second time is the charm.
"And I actually am optimistic that our next special
session can and will be successful because we’ve heard from both in the House
and the Senate now republicans and democrats saying that these cuts are catastrophic.”
The budget shortfall has forced the legislature to reckon
with a lack of funds, with a House budget that slashed healthcare to spare
education, including the elimination of public-private partnership hospitals,
and a Senate budget that favored healthcare over higher ed and agency funding.
Edwards says they have no choice but to raise revenues in response.
“It simply is not possible to fashion a responsible
budget that adequately funds our critical priorities with the revenue that is
available next fiscal year.”
Edwards is hoping the legislature adopts his revenue plan
that would keep a portion of a expiring penny sales tax, while eliminating
sales tax exemptions for certain industries.
“The plan that I’ve put forward would allow for a net tax
reduction from this year to next of approximately 400 million dollars.”