Third time's the charm? Lawmakers head back for another special session

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - On Monday, lawmakers head back to the state capitol for another special session.

It's the third one this year, and the seventh under Governor John Bel Edwards.

They will convene at 5 p.m. Monday evening, and starting on Tuesday, they have 10 days to raise revenue for the state. At the end of the month, a half-cent sales tax is set to fall off the books, leaving vital programs in jeopardy.

"If there's no resolution then the sky will fall in its own way," said political analyst Jim Engster. "30 percent of TOPS will go away. That's a program that's highly popular. And lawmakers and the governor will probably be held accountable for it."

The food stamps program would also be in jeopardy, and many state workers are at risk of losing their jobs.

Engster says if lawmakers do not get a deal done, Governor Edwards and all legislators would lose a lot of popularity and reduce their chances for re-election. Engster says he has high hopes that they will come to an agreement because of this.

"Things that people don't really think are luxuries would have to be cut," Engster said. "And as a result, when all is said and done, a tax will probably pass. It's a question of how big of a tax."

In February of last year, during the third special session under the Edwards administration, lawmakers reached a deal to close that year's budget deficit by cutting the Department of Health and taking money from the state's "rainy day fund." This year, they have come close to an agreement, cutting certain programs or implementing new taxes.

The House rejected a measure that would renew the half-cent sales tax. It only got 63 of the required 70 votes.

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