Louisiana lawmakers are knee deep into the special session designed to alleviate a $600 million budget hole for the current fiscal year.

Gov. John Bel Edwards joined Rob and Bernie, on Acadiana's Morning News Thursday, to discuss what progress has been made thus far at the Capitol.

Gov. John Bel Edwards (Youtube)

Since the start of the session Monday, Edwards was handed a couple defeats so far. He said the House Ways and Means Committee has voted out approximately $180 million in fiscal measures that would help fill the state's budget hole.

If lawmakers ultimately do not fill the $600-million hole, Louisiana residents can expect changes in state-provided services. Edwards said the following departments and programs could be substantially hurt if lawmakers reach a financial stalemate.

  • The Department of Health and Hospitals is facing  a $174-million gap that could translate to cutting patient services at the safety net hospitals across the state as well as a loss in some Medicare services.
  • The TOPS program is facing a $155 million shortfall which may lead to higher tuition costs for students planning to attend Louisiana colleges and universities. Furthermore, state support for higher education is $55 million short.
  • The Department of Education K-12 is facing a $74 million hole which if not filled could lead to cuts in services for students and cuts in salaries for public school employees.

Edwards said optimistically, the $600-million budget gap now facing the state's budget was originally estimated to be a $2 billion crater in the treasury.