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Second special session in full swing at the Capitol

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BATON ROUGE - The second session is in full swing at the Capitol as lawmakers are grappling with raising more taxes to close the budget deficit.

Gov. John Bel Edwards addressed the Legislature Tuesday morning with News 2's Mark Armstrong getting the impression that his words fell on deaf ears. Moments that were met with applause were few and far between at the Capitol as Edwards attempted to rouse lawmakers to raise taxes.

"If we don't address the $600 million deficit, we force critical services to be unfunded and unprovided next year," said the Governor during his opening remarks.

The Legislature has to come up with a way to rustle up more cash for the state as TOPS scholarships, education and hospitals still face potentially devastating cuts.

Just after Edwards' speech, the House Ways and Means Committee shot down a few of the Governor's tax proposals including income taxes and the elimination of corporate giveaways.

Some progress was made on Tuesday however as a bill to tax health care providers was met with approval. It could bring in a significant amount of money, but it's still not enough to plug a gaping hole in the budget.

Leaders in the Senate are hopeful the House will take a hard look at the Govenor's proposed tax plan.

"I'm hoping they will take a deep breath and take a look at what they didn't fund in this budget," said Senate President John Alario, R-Westego.

Gov. Edwards did say in his speech on Tuesday that he's willing to compromise as long as the deficit can be fixed while preserving as many critical state services as possible.

"Compromise is not a dirty word with me," Edwards said. "And I am hopeful we can work together to address these challenges."

Lawmakers have two and a half weeks to iron out a deal.


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