Several state senators are urging Governor John Bel Edwards to call a special session this month to fix a one-billion dollar revenue shortfall for next fiscal year. Edwards is waiting on House Republicans to get behind tax bills to make up the shortfall. Port Allen Senator Rick Ward says for legislators to agree on a plan, they need to be at the State Capitol.
“You know, I'm hoping some deal can me reached. I don't know what they would look like at all, but I just think that we all have to be in one place for that to even begin the process of happening,” Ward said.
Ward is one of 14 Senators to sign a letter urging the governor to hold a special session after the Mardi Gras holiday. Ward says now is the time to address the loss of a billion dollars in temporary taxes on July 1st, so legislators know how much money they have available for next fiscal year’s budget.
“There needs to be some stability moving forward and if we get that done, or at least partially done in February, it would go a long way,” Ward explained.
Ward says senators are also asking the governor to make the special session agenda as broad as possible. "If we're all put in a building together and only given a very small menu of options, I think that's the best way for things to fall apart,” Ward said.
Governor Edwards says he’ll need to issue a call for a special session by Friday in order for it to start and finish before the regular session begins March 12th. Edwards says he’s still waiting on House leadership to support some revenue generating proposals, before he asks legislators to come to Baton Rouge for a special session.
"It just seems to me that we don't want to have a session just for the sake of having one. We want to have a session just for the sake of having one," Edwards said.
It's been reported that a possible start date for the special session is February 19th.