La. Senate awaiting new revenue measures from House

La. Senate awaiting new revenue measures from House

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The first week of the 2016 Special Legislative Session will close behind the pace of what some lawmakers would like. The state has three weeks to find over $900 million to close the immediate deficit.

Louisiana's chief economist explained Thursday why several bills to raise taxes are not ready to be presented.

Lawmakers say it is because of so many bills being filed in a short amount of time.

"The bills themselves are fairly complex," said Greg Albrecht, chief economist to the legislature. "Last night I looked at a couple of the bills, I couldn't even tell what some of the bills were doing."

Albrecht was in-part talking about a bill to raise the sales tax a penny. It's 80 pages long.

"We are trying to move as quickly as we can on the bills. We're prepared to work as long and as hard as we have to," said Rep. Neil Abramson, D-New Orleans, and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

That apparently means working overtime.

Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, said while state senators are out of the Capitol until Monday, members of the House may work this weekend.

"They may be here Saturday morning which is great if they can get something to us Monday. We're ready to go to work," said Alario.

The Senate is waiting on new revenue from the House because senators already forwarded $328 million in new money this week. That includes $200 million from BP settlements and $128 million from the state's figurative piggy bank, the"Rainy Day" fund.

However, those two quick measures are said to be moving faster because they are much less controversial ways of raising new money than increasing taxes.

"It's appropriate to use those BP dollars attached to lost tax revenue to help patch this year's budget and the Rainy Day fund exists for this purpose," said Sen. JP Morrell, D-New Orleans.

Behind on schedule, Alario is still commending the House for their work during week one.

"It's slower than what some of us would like, but I think it's at the pace that it needs to be," said Alario. "I think they're doing the responsible thing at this point."

Tax bills that were ready and presented week one were only for discussion.

Voting on the bills is expected to begin next week.

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