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Lawmakers Fail To Solve Budget, Revenue Problems As Special Session Ends

Tryfon Boukouvidis
LSU Manship School News Service
Rep. Cameron Henry, D-Metairie, talks with Rep. John Bagneris, D-New Orleans, during Monday's debate on the House floor.

The legislature managed to pass a budget on the final day of the special session, but ultimately failed to raise revenue to fund it.

Governor John Bel Edwards - in a press conference after the House adjourned at midnight - called it a disaster and pointed the blame at Republican leaders in the House.

“What they said no to tonight in the House was a plan that would adequately fund our critical priorities,” said Edwards.

The budget required $540 million in additional revenue in order to fully fund TOPS, higher ed and many other state programs. But lawmakers in the House couldn’t agree on how to raise the money.

“Instead, they chose course of action that is devastating for kids who are on TOPS, parents of kids who are on tops, higher education in general, sheriffs, DAs, department of education, department of corrections -- you name it," said Edwards.

The final hour of the session grew chaotic. There was a last-minute attempt to raise revenue and vote on a tax bill that had failed only moments before. It would have extended half a penny in sales tax. With a minute to spare, members booed on the House floor as Representative Alan Seabaugh (R-Shreveport) blocked the vote.

"Yes, I am trying to run the clock out," Seabaugh said. "Because we voted on this bill before, it didn’t get 70 votes, I object to bringing this bill back up.”

Whether the support would have been there the second time around isn’t clear, but a frustrated Representative Julie Stokes (R-Kenner) said what is clear is that the Legislature will be in another special session.

“Send us into another $60 thousand a day session at the taxpayers expense, when the results are going to be the same, no matter what, until this insanity stops," said Stokes.

Edwards said he would call another special session to end before July 1 - when the new fiscal year begins. This is the second special session this year that ended with no solution to the state’s revenue problem.

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.

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