Legislators are gearing up for a third special session that will start June 18. They’ll have 10 days to reach an agreement on the budget and taxes.
But Rep. Malinda White (D-Bogalusa) says taxpayers shouldn't have to foot the bill for another session, after tax negotiations collapsed under partisan gridlock last week.
"The night it went down, I was so frustrated and immediately said, 'we do not deserve pay for another special session,'" White said.
On top of an annual salary, Legislators are paid a daily rate of $164 each day they're at the Capitol. Rep. White is foregoing that per diem for the third special session.
"It's what the people are asking for," she said. "They don't think we should get any more pay, and I agree with them. I think we should get the work done in the time allotted for us and quit playing games."
While she can't technically refuse the check, she'll be donating the money to Youth Service Bureau, which assists neglected children in her district.
Each day of a legislative session costs the state about $60 thousand — that includes staff, per diem, printing and other costs. And those days have been adding up, as lawmakers have been at an impasse over how to fund next year's budget.
The Legislature managed to pass a spending plan in the second special session, but it's still short by about $500 million. Gov. Edwards signed that budget into law Friday, but he's urging legislators to compromise on a way to fill that funding gap and avoid cuts to state services.
Rep. White is optimistic the third time's the charm. "I think with some time down, maybe some members will feel the same way, join together and take care of businesses. Balance the budget, which has also been cut, and get it done," White says.
The special session must finish up no later than June 27, just three days before the end of the fiscal year.