Governor John Bel Edwards addressed a joint session of the legislature this morning, calling on lawmakers to find the political courage to raise enough revenue during this special session to reduce cuts to state programs. Edwards says they cannot wait any longer to resolve the fiscal crisis.

“Our hospitals can’t wait. Our disabled citizens can’t wait. Our universities and community and technical colleges can’t wait. K through 12 schools can’t wait, and simply put, Louisiana cannot afford to wait,” Edwards said.

In addition to tying up some loose ends from the last special session, Edwards is asking lawmakers to look at altering income taxes as a means to raise revenue, which he says is part of long term tax reform. He says they should also look at reducing corporate tax exemptions.

“We must reduce the lavish tax giveaways enjoyed for too long by too many businesses without regard for their poor return on investment and their negative impact on the state budget overall,” Edwards said.

Edwards also wants lawmakers to limit the itemized deductions taxpayers claim on their state returns. He says he does not want to raise taxes, contrary to popular belief, but this proposal would not affect the majority of Louisiana taxpayers.

“The best part about this proposal is that 74% of the people of Louisiana don’t itemize their deductions, and this will have no impact on them,” Edwards said.

Legislators have until midnight on June 23 to try and raise enough revenue to close a $600 million budget shortfall.