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BATON ROUGE - Gov. John Bel Edwards urged lawmakers to use Louisiana's "rainy day" fund to help eliminate a $304 million budget gap as the House and Senate opened a deficit-closing special session called by the governor.

Edwards told lawmakers Monday night that their mission was to stabilize the budget "while adequately funding the programs and services the people of Louisiana consider to be priorities."

He said with little more than four months left in the budget year, taking nearly $120 million from the rainy day fund to help fill the gap was a responsible approach.

Edwards said not tapping into the savings account would "inflict more pain" upon people than was needed.

House Republican leaders have shown resistance to using the reserve account, saying the state should cut more deeply instead.

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