Special session called as precautionary measure

BATON ROUGE — Gov. John Bel Edwards has called a special legislative session for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 8, which is 30 minutes after the current fiscal session has to adjourn.

State law requires seven days between the issuance of a special session call and when it can convene and that is why Edwards said he is calling the session now.

Edwards said he issued the call as a precautionary measure in light of expected gridlock over the state operating and construction budgets. He said it isn’t designed to address the $13 billion budget deficit expected on July 1, 2018. The call doesn’t include the option to raise additional revenue.

“Should we come to an agreement on the operating and construction budgets, the special session will not be necessary,” he said. “However, the budget in its current form is a nonstarter, therefore, the additional time could be necessary.

“The work before us for the next week is critically important, and I’m asking members of the Legislature to work with me to adopt a responsible budget that adequately funds the state’s priorities.”

The special session call contains four items — the state supplemental appropriations bill, the state operating budget for fiscal year 2017-’18, the construction budget and the bond act that funds the construction.

Edwards said the 2018 deficit is coming because $1.3 billion in temporary taxes passed in 2016 expire on July 1, 2018.

The governor talked about the task force recommendations for reforming the state’s budget and tax systems that have been pretty much ignored at the current session. He said he also had a plan that included a tax cut for 90 percent of all taxpayers, but it was rejected.

Edwards added that his plan stopped the practice of allowing 80 percent of corporations in Louisiana to pay nothing in income taxes.

“The House leadership has blocked the task force’s recommendations, his alternative plan and plans from members of their own Republican Party,” the governor said.

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