House GOP Chairman Lance Harris is defending the House backed budget that funds education, but slashes healthcare, ahead of a special session that is expected to start mid-May. The budget has come under fire for threatening to eliminate public-private partnership hospitals and residency programs.

But Harris says it’s just a first step in long budget process that he expects will carry over into a special session.
"It’s important to know exactly what holes you have to fill when you ask members to renewing revenue, getting rid of tax revenues or whatever may happen.”

The Alexandria Republican anticipates a May 18th special session being called by the governor to fill the 648 million dollar budget gap reflected in the House budget, but he says the legislature will likely not increase income taxes to replace expiring sales taxes.

“Income tax is out. I will not vote for anything when it comes to… so, that’s off the table. I don’t see the votes being there.”

Harris says he sees two options for funding those healthcare priorities: keeping a piece of the expiring one cent sales tax, and eliminating sales tax deductions for certain industries in an anticipated special session.

“Renewing a portion of the penny, the sales tax, and looking at ’cleaning the rest of the pennies’ as they call it, bringing them all in line when it comes to exceptions.”