BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Gov. John Bel Edwards held a news conference Friday morning to discuss the ongoing special session and the Louisiana budget.
Louisiana is facing budget shortfall of more than $900 million for the fiscal year ending June 30 and a $2 billion deficit for the fiscal year after, prompting newly sworn-in Gov. John Bel Edwards to call for a special session of the legislature to address the issue.
This is the opportunity that we're given," Edwards said. "If we don't take advantage of it, I can assure you we will have another special session to raise revenue, but it will be after catastrophic cuts have gone into place and we shouldn't do that. The people of Louisiana should expect their legislators to come in and work hard to take care of the problem when they're given the opportunity."
Louisiana is facing budget shortfall of more than $900 million for the fiscal year ending June 30 and a $2 billion deficit for the fiscal year after, prompting newly sworn-in Gov. John Bel Edwards to call for a special session of the legislature to address the issue. Click here for special coverage.
He talked about the progress made so far during the special session and how much more work needs to be done to fill the $943 million hole.
Edwards emphasized he is working hard to "find the right balance of spending cuts and additional revenue to solve this problem and avoid devastating, catastrophic cuts to critical services."
He thanked state representatives for moving the clean penny proposal out of the House on Thursday. He noted it won't solve everything, but called it the single largest component of his plan as it relates to the revenue portion of the approach to solve the budget deficit problem.
The measures will next go before the Senate.
"I would call upon those legislators who don't want to vote for revenue, just put the cuts up that they can live with," Edwards said. "That is not happening. And so, it would seem to me the responsible approach for anybody who believes we can solve this without new revenue to show where they would solve it. It should not escape your notice that that is not happening."
Edwards also talked about the state's credit rating being downgraded by Moody's Investment Services. He added the state is also on a negative watch from Moody's, meaning further downgrades are possible if the state doesn't quickly and responsibly address the current budget crisis.
The governor reiterated more than $300 million in new money from BP settlements and the "Rainy Day" fund also advanced to the Senate.
"So, while there's plenty of things to do, we are starting to move in the right direction. I remain hopeful and optimistic that we're going to get there because the consequences of failure quite honestly are too severe to really contemplate as actually occurring," Edwards explained.
There are 13 days left in the special session.