Capitol Access

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Reports on Louisiana politics, government and the people shaping state policy.

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Last week, Governor John Bel Edwards debuted his $32 billion dollar budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. Unsurprisingly, the second-term governor’s plan highlighted new investments in education. 

Gov. John Bel Edwards debuted a $32 billion state budget proposal Friday, but ongoing disputes between the administration and Republican lawmakers over how much money the state has to spend looms large over the start of this year’s negotiations.

Paul Braun/WRKF

Governor John Bel Edwards and top Republican lawmakers will start the 2020 legislative session locked in a familiar standoff.

On Friday, the Revenue Estimating Conference, or REC, couldn't agree to update the state's official revenue projections. That means the governor's executive budget would have to be based on last year's estimate — about $100 million less than economists expect the state to have in the coming fiscal year.

Tort reform, was a huge issue in last year's elections, and is a key policy goal Republicans now that they have strengthened their majorities in the Louisiana Legislature. 

The GOP pitches tort reform as a silver bullet to reduce Louisiana's car insurance rates-- the second highest in the nation. Critics say it wouldn't.

The debate is playing out as a political tug-of-war between trial lawyers and the business lobby, two of the state's most influential special interests.

Last week, the 72nd Louisiana Legislature convened for the first time, electing new leaders in a brief organizational session.

After months of backroom negotiations, they settled on Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, for Speaker of the House and Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, as Senate President.

Both positions were hotly contested behind closed doors, but things boiled over in the Speaker's race.

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