The second special session of the year crashed and burned when lawmakers failed to pass a sales tax bill and that could result in a 30% cut to TOPS and 20% reduction in higher ed funding next fiscal year. The House rejected a Senate backed sales tax plan that would have replaced most of the 648-million dollars in expiring revenue.
New Orleans Senator Karen Carter Peterson laid the blame for the session’s failure at a large group of House Republicans
“We all have to own what a few people in the House of Representatives did because they are selfish, they are callous in their disregard for human beings,” said Peterson.
That Senate backed plan would have raised 507 million dollars by renewing half of the expiring penny sales tax, and fully funding TOPS, higher ed, and healthcare. The bill received opposition from key Republican leaders House GOP Chairman Lance Harris, and Speaker Taylor Barras who questioned some of the tax’s legitimacy.
“It’s got multiple objects in the bill and I would question the constitutionality of those multiple objects.”
Governor John Bel Edwards says he was embarrassed by the lack of cooperation in the legislature. Edwards says the body’s failure means another session will have to be called, costing taxpayers 50,000 dollars a day, in part to pay per deims to legislators for their return trip to the capitol.
“And oh by the way, the legislature’s budget is funded but the budgets for the state agencies that actually serve the people of our great state like our children and our most at risk, are catastrophically underfunded.”
In particular he singled out a specific group of conservative House Republicans who he says are at the center of the legislature’s inability to get a deal done.
“That distinct hard core caucus of no is standing in the way of the state of Louisiana and we have got to do better.”
While he did not say when it would be held, it is likely the Governor will call for another special session before the current fiscal year ends June 30th.