Governor Edwards and state lawmakers return to Baton Rouge Monday for a special session to find a solution to the looming fiscal cliff that threatens to gut popular programs like TOPS. The governor is seeking tax reform, and Republicans want spending reductions.
Erath Representative Blake Miguez says the GOP caucus is demanding the creation of the Louisiana Checkbook.
“Every penny that is spent, you can go online and see bar graphs and charts, every dollar that is spent in state government. That should have happened a long time ago.”
He says the program would increase transparency, and would closely resembles Ohio’s Ohiocheckbook.com
Along with implementing Medicaid copays, tighter eligibility, and work requirements, Miguez says he also wants to see a state spending cap that is tied to private sector economic performance.
“Were not going to let state government outgrow the private sector, because we understand the private sector funds state government.”
Democrats say they will not allow a full renewal of the expiring one penny sales tax, as they feel it unfairly targets the poor. Franklin Representative and Democrat Sam Jones says he wants to see a budget deal that ensures crucial programs are not underfunded.
“(I want) A predictable budget where fully fund our hospitals, our education system, fully fund tops, and finally get to a point where we can give some attention to our infrastructure.”
Political analysts have warned that the special session could be a political minefield, with Republicans attempting to make sure the governor does not leave with a “win” that could propel him to another term in office. Jones says so far, the negotiations have been fair.
“Were not quite Washington yet, but we’ve had some Washington D.C. type moments.”
Shreveport Representative Republican Alan Seabaugh says he’s beginning to see the framework for a grand bargain.
“The one penny sales tax goes away, reinstituting a half penny which would be 440 million dollars, with half of that dedicated to funding TOPS.”
The special session ends March 7th.