Another special session has started at the State Capitol, after lawmakers failed to pass a budget for next fiscal year. Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards calls it an epic failure by House Republican leadership.
“The House leadership clearly chose to put party politics ahead of the people’s business, as a result a budget agreement was not reached, and we’re not heading into an unnecessary and costly special session,” Edwards said.
Legislators have been discussing a 28-billion dollar spending plan since March. The House wanted to withhold spending $100 million in case of a midyear shortfall, while the Senate only wanted to hold back $50 million to avoid deeper cuts to state agencies. House Appropriations Chair Cameron Henry expressed his disappointment in the session's final minutes.
“I can’t work any harder or any smarter than I have. I think at some point in time wind up negotiating against yourself, and that’s where we are. We’re trying to get the best thing done, but at this moment we’re stuck at deadlock, members,” Henry said, “I apologize for that.”
Edwards says it’s a sad day in Louisiana because some lawmakers decided not to do what is in the best interest of the state. He says the options before lawmakers won’t be any different in the special than they were in the regular session.
“I will keep the legislature here in Baton Rouge as long as it takes to pass a budget that fully funds TOPS, spare higher education from more cuts, protects our children and families, and honors our veterans,” Edwards said.
Edwards says the House should have approved the budget passed by the Senate, which fully funded TOPS and spared higher education, prisons and child welfare programs from cuts.
“I’ll keep them here to pass a budget that looks a lot like the one that they refused to allow a vote on today in the House of Representatives, and we now know a majority of the House wanted that budget,” Edwards said.