BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards called for another special session on Friday, June 8. The session will convene on Monday, June 18 at 4 p.m. and must end by 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 27.
During the last special session, lawmakers passed a budget that leaves TOPS, higher education, children and family services, as well as sheriffs and district attorneys unfunded. Two-thirds of the legislature voted to support a balanced plan to fund these areas. That same budget plan would reduce the tax burden on residents of Louisiana by $550 million and cut more than $200 million in government spending.
"A clear majority in the legislature wants to put our state's budget challenges behind us, but were blocked in the last special session," said Edwards. "We have one more opportunity to get this right for the people of Louisiana. We can fully fund TOPS, higher education, our sheriffs, district attorneys and other state priorities and still give the people of Louisiana a reduction in their tax burden of over $500 million. While this special session can last 10-days, there is nothing stopping the legislature from completing its work early. We know the path we need to take, and now it's time to come together as Louisianans to solve this problem. Based on the input from many members of the legislature, I am optimistic that we can get it done."
Edwards also signed the state's operating budget, House Bill 1, into law. He also signed Senate Bill 13, which deals with the state's transparency website.
"While this budget is not perfect by any means, it clearly lays out the choice the legislature has leading up to the special session," Edwards said. "This budget funds our health care priorities and lays out a plan to fully fund TOPS, higher education, sheriffs, children and family services, our district attorneys, and other critical priorities. Doing so requires the legislature to adopt the bipartisan, compromise plan that received support from an overwhelming majority of legislators. According to the bill, anything short of that would result in each of these areas being cut."
In the budget proposal, more than $500 million in priorities remain unfunded. Revenue generated in the special session must be spread evenly across these areas. In order to fully fund TOPS, higher ed, law enforcement, and other things, the legislature must adopt revenue measures that total the amount of unfunded programs.
"This administration is one of the most transparent in our state's history," Edwards said. "We operate one of the most transparent state governments in the country, and this legislation continues that effort. In the coming weeks, my administration will work with the legislature to secure funding for our improved, online transparency website, and we will continue to promote transparency at all levels of government. The people of Louisiana deserve nothing less from us."