Lawmaker refuses pay as third special session seems unavoidable

Lawmakers left this special session frustrated after they failed to fix the state's budget problems again (Source: WAFB)
Lawmakers left this special session frustrated after they failed to fix the state's budget problems again (Source: WAFB)
Lawmakers left this special session frustrated after they failed to fix the state's budget problems again (Source: WAFB)
Lawmakers left this special session frustrated after they failed to fix the state's budget problems again (Source: WAFB)
Lawmakers left this special session frustrated after they failed to fix the state's budget problems again (Source: WAFB)
Lawmakers left this special session frustrated after they failed to fix the state's budget problems again (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - After yet another special session came crashing down in its final hours Monday night, several lawmakers left frustrated and confused. As talks of another special session to fix the state's budget problems ramp up though, Malinda White, D- Bogalusa, says enough is enough.

"People are sick and tired of us not taking care of something that we could have taken care of three years ago," she said.

White has decided she's fighting back. She's refusing to be paid if another special session is called and instead is choosing to donate her payment to charity. She believes if that money was not paid to lawmakers, compromise at the capitol would become a lot more clear. "I feel like if legislators, when they got up there, they had to pay to stay and do the work for the people, you would see work get done rather quickly," White added. "You would see compromise."

Louisiana taxpayers spend about $60,000 per day when lawmakers are at the capitol for a special session and those elected to act on their behalf are paid roughly $1,500 in per diems for the work. White says she's tired of wrestling with what she calls "party politics plaguing the process," which ends up costing taxpayers.

"I hate party politics and that's what I saw," said White. "I got a front row seat to it."

Some lawmakers, like Senator Regina Barrow, D- Baton Rouge, say the session too often gets bogged down in the same fight over cutting services or raising revenue.

"People should be outraged because we should not be going through this again," said Barrow. "I mean, you have to do one or the other and the bad part about this is we're just really kind of regurgitating dollars."

"How do you say that we have a budget crisis, but you're willing to spend this type of money on this?" Jasmine Pogue questioned.

Pogue is an active member of a new grass roots effort called the Poor Peoples' Campaign, which has been making a lot of noise at the capitol recently. No matter which side of the debate people side with, she believes the cycle of inaction must stop.

"They're refusing to even budge on anything for the sake of the people. I mean that's not okay," said Pogue.

Members of the group have protested heavily in the past few weeks and she says they will continue until lawmakers listen.

"We didn't ask for the $60,000 a day to be spent on a special session," said Pogue. "We asked for our legislators to do their jobs."

Lawmakers face a $650 million shortfall on June 30 when nearly $1 billion in temporary taxes falls off the books.

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