'That is just a damn shame;' governor disappointed in failed second special session

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - For the second time this year, the special session crashed after lawmakers could not reach a compromise.

"Just a crying, damn shame," said Governor John Bel Edwards.

Republicans wanted to shrink government by extending less of the state sales tax, and Democrats wanted to cover as much of the $648 million budget hole as possible. Edwards is placing the blame on Republican leadership, specifically House Speaker Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia.

"It's a sad day for the State of Louisiana. You saw a minority in the House clearly let politics take priority over people," Edwards said. "I am extremely disappointed in what was just a disaster that played out in the House of Representatives that is attributable to a minority of the House members and to leadership that is anything but."

He called the session's end a "total collapse of leadership," and said the small group of Republicans that have the most clout in the House are "standing in the way of Louisiana."

Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, told Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, he was trying to kill the session when he filibustered the final minutes to try to stall a vote on a tax bill that had already failed. Seabaugh acknowledged his intent was to "run out the clock."

"I literally pray for this to end," Stokes said. "I mean, literally, I pray for these people to work together and come up with something and I think it's just so sad."

Republicans, led by Caucus Chair Lance Harris, said they had already compromised by agreeing to extend some portion of a tax when many members only wanted to make cuts.

All but three Democrats voted against Harris' bill that would have raised about $400 million, arguing if they were going to extend some of the tax, they might as well cover more of the shortfall.

"I didn't think we could get much worse than in the last couple of years, but today we hit a new low," said Rep. Rob Shadoin, R-Ruston.

June 30 is the final day the legislature could raise revenue. The governor has not said when he plans to issue the call for the third special.

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