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Louisiana special session ends early with no tax deal

Louisiana special session ends early with no tax deal”

The session must end by law at midnight Wednesday.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a press conference he planned to shorten the regular session and call a second special session in May to try and strike a deal again.

Edwards doesn't believe lawmakers will agree to pass a budget that cuts almost $700 million in state financing. "I've said that before", Edwards said. Members of the Legislative Black Caucus oppose both measures. The governor kept his word, but unfortunately the House did not.

"The options aren't going to change, but we better change", the governor said. The Black Caucus members said they were unhappy it was tied to separate bills including efforts to enact work requirements on Medicaid patients.

Gov. John Bel Edwards called lawmakers into this 17-day special session February 19 asking them to pass about $1 billion in new permanent taxes to replace a portion of the more than $1.3 billion in temporary taxes that expire June 30.

Dwight called his legislation the centerpiece of the special session that was called to deal with a $994 million deficit for the 2018-19 fiscal year beginning July 1. Barras, as the House leader, allowed the two major tax proposals to come up for a vote multiple times, but neither was able to get enough support for approval.

A special session to fix Louisiana's budget shortfall is on a collision course with failure after state lawmakers voted to put the stake in a key tax bill Sunday night. The governor has never singled out Barras as the person exclusively responsible for a legislative collapse in the past.

Taxpayers pay around $60,000 for each day of a special session. "I know it isn't possible to budget responsibly and fund our most critical priorities at that level".

He has since acknowledged the target will shrink to $692 million because of federal tax changes that will generate $302 million in revenue for the state.

The House has been divided on how to raise revenue - or whether to do it at all - since the session began.

"He never called me to tell me that he was backing away from his commitment. I can't speak to that because I haven't been a part of those negotiations", Ivey said.

"The governor should have really done a better job on his numbers, meaning making sure he had the support he actually said he had", said House Appropriations Chair Cameron Henry (R-Metairie). The House voted 33-70 against the measure, with a combination of Democrats and Republicans casting "no" votes.

But the sponsor of the sales tax bill said he did not know about that agreement.

Democrats - especially the Black Caucus - wanted to vote on a change to the income tax first so they could guarantee it got through to the Senate.

"This bill is the centerpiece of this special session", he said.

Dwight said he did not find out until he arrived at the House Sunday afternoon that there would be a vote to remove the Medicaid amendment from his bill. "His blame is very misdirected".

"We didn't have Republican support for that".

"There's divide in the GOP delegation, there's divide in the Democratic caucus, a lot of these groups drew a line in the sand and wouldn't come off of it", Alford said.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said the next several months will be marked by the budget uncertainty that could have been avoided if lawmakers had agreed to a tax compromise. But in the end, Edwards relented on the sales tax and willing to go along with it more because the House Republicans were more comfortable with that tax than others. "That's what makes it hard", Edwards said. "That was totally absent from the House of Representatives".



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