Lawmakers prepare for third special session this year
BATON ROUGE - It's been a long legislative session. Lawmakers have been at the capitol for nearly 50 days, and on Monday, they'll be back for more.
The special session, that is expected to cost $60,000 per day will be focused on one thing -- the state's budget. A one cent sales tax that generates just over a billion dollars, is expiring. The Governor wants to replace $648,000 dollars of that. The problem is lawmakers aren't agreeing on how that will be done.
“There's obviously two warring mind sets that go on,” said Representative Rick Edmonds. “One is raising taxes and the other is trying to hold the line."
Some lawmakers want to pass a half cent sales tax, avoiding department cuts.
“I don't think it's fair to us leaving students, higher ed not knowing whether or not they're getting tops,” said Representative Patricia Smith. “Our departments are not knowing what their funding is going to be.”
Others, want taxes to be lower.
“If we go back to 2016, [a half cent tax] is still a tax increase of where we were in March of 2016,” said Edmonds. He says there's other ways to come up with the money.
“We have over 2,000 employees that year after year are funded but unfilled. It amounts to $160 million a year."
But, Representative Smith fears cuts could go father than that.
“We shouldn't be that kind of a legislature. We should be thinking about the fact that the legislature has services they need to provide and in those services, they need to provided the funding for,” said Smith.
One thing lawmakers do agree on is that a compromise needs to be made, and fast. It's just a question as to who is willing to budge on these budget woes.
“I'm sure we could get an applause if we don't have another special session this year, I'm sure people will be happy about it,” said Edmonds.