Wallis Watkins

Wallis Watkins is a Baton Rouge native. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Philosophy from Louisiana State University in 2013. Soon after, she joined WRKF as an intern and is now reporting on health and health policy for Louisiana's Prescription.

The first real tax debate of the second special session happened Thursday in Ways and Means. After hours of discussion, visibly drained and irritated committee members passed just one tax bill and rejected a slew of others, including those supported by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Two days into the special session, and there’s no indication of smooth roads ahead. Gov. John Bel Edwards rallied hospital and higher education groups to the Capitol Wednesday to help him convince legislators to raise revenue for next year’s budget. 

Another special session is underway at the Capitol. But on Tuesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards broke tradition and didn’t address the legislature to open the session. Instead, he left the Capitol and spoke with elected officials and supporters at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

On Tuesday the Legislature starts its second special session this year. Lawmakers will attempt to address the state's nearly $650-million budget shortfall. The question is: How will they agree to raise revenue?

"Members, we have reported to the Senate that the House is prepared to Sine Die," Rep. Bob Hensgens (R-Abbeville) announced on the House floor Friday.  With that, the Louisiana Legislature ended the regular session two weeks ahead of schedule. They'll be back to work Tuesday for a special session on the budget and taxes. 

The Louisiana Legislature has sent a state budget for next year to Gov. John Bel Edwards' desk. But, as of Wednesday, the Governor said he doesn’t support the bill with nearly $650 million in cuts. 

With just a few days left in this regular session, the Senate has passed a budget that funds health-care services, but makes cuts to most other departments in state government. 

Despite the recent controversy over an extension of the state’s contract with Harrah’s Casino, a Senate committee narrowly agreed Monday to keep the negotiations moving. 

Lawmakers in the Senate are ready to consider the state's budget, now that it has passed the Senate Finance committee.

Wallis Watkins / WRKF

On the same day thousands of letters were sent to Medicaid recipients across Louisiana warning them of potential cuts to the program, Governor John Bel Edwards tried to address concerns at University Hospital and Clinics in Lafayette - one of the state’s hospital partners threatening to shut down if they aren’t fully funded in next year’s budget.

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