GOP and Democratic leadership are optimistic that the
February special session will end with a deal in place to fill the one billion
dollar budget gap resulting from the expiration of sales taxes in July. The
session will begin February 19th, and Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus
Gene Reynolds says the two sides are getting close on an agreement.
“There’s some things
that need to be worked out but, I feel like once we get there, the Republican
caucus and the Democratic caucus, you know... we work together and we can get this
done,” Reynolds said.
Governor John Bel Edwards says he’s open to making any deal
that does not include renewing a temporary one cent sales tax that’s set to
expire. Reynolds says it’s a non-starter for any negotiation.
“Sales tax is a dying source and it’s a volatile
source. It can go up and down. We need a stable source and I think that’s
what we’re going to look at,” said Reynolds.
House Republican Caucus Chairman Lance Harris of Alexandria
says he’s looking forward to closing the deal with his colleagues in the capital.
“I think the only way to really be able to get to solutions
is for us to be Baton Rouge and debate and file those bills that are necessary
to get there,” said Harris
Governor Edwards has pushed for replacing the expiring one
cent sales tax by eliminating certain sales tax deductions aimed at businesses
in certain industries. Harris says he’s open to eliminating those deductions,
if it’s coupled with spending reductions.
“I’ve always been an advocate of that. I think that we need to level the playing
field and really reduce spending when it comes to the tax code before you talk
about extracting more money out of the regular tax payers’ pockets,” said