Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a call for a special session of the Louisiana Legislature. The special session will convene at 4 p.m. on Monday, June 18, 2018, and it must adjourn by 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 27, 2018. During the recent special session, the legislature passed a budget that leaves TOPS, higher education, children and family services, sheriffs and district attorneys unfunded. Two-thirds of the legislature, 32 members of the Senate and 63 members of the House of Representatives, voted to support a balanced plan to fund these critical priorities. That same plan would reduce the tax burden on the people of Louisiana by $550 million and cut more than $200 million in government spending.
This past Tuesday’s election stirred mediocre interest here in the Bayou State. This was the fifth election in Louisiana in 2018. And get ready for six election dates in 2019. There was a 45% turnout last week, even though voters witnessed a great deal of election hype from throughout the nation. Louisianans just were not all that enthused.
“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 Gov. 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.”
Today, Gov. Edwards also signed into law House Bill 1, the state’s operating budget, and Senate Bill 13, regarding 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,” Gov. Edwards continued. “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 adopted by the legislature, more than $500 million in priorities remain unfunded and are awaiting passage of revenue measures. Language in that section requires that revenue generated in the special session be spread evenly across all of the unfunded programs. In order to fully fund TOPS, higher education, law enforcement and other priorities, the legislature must adopt revenue measures that total the amount of the unfunded programs.
“This administration is one of the most transparent in our state’s history,” Gov. 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.”