Uncertainty Surrounds Final Day Of Special Session
It’s the final day of the special session, and the major sticking point is how much of the rainy day fund to tap to resolve a $304 million midyear deficit. Governor Edwards and the Senate proposes using $99 million from the state’s savings account, but LaPolitics.com publisher Jeremy Alford says House Republicans want the Senate to pass a bill that frees up statutory dedications in future budgets.
“Without that bill moving out of the Senate, you’re not going to see many votes in the House among conservatives for a withdrawal from the rainy day fund. So it’s a little game of chicken, the question is who’s going to bend first,” Alford said.
It will take a two-thirds vote in the House to approve using money from the Rainy Day Fund, which means 70 yes votes. Some House GOP members say $99 million is too much to take from the state’s savings account and suggest $90 million. Alford says the deadline to reach an agreement is midnight.
“You’ve got some House members who think that $99 million is too high. The House originally had proposed $75 million. The governor wanted $120 million. At some point it’s the question of if you’re pregnant or a little bit pregnant, you either use the money or you don’t,” Alford said.
Alford says it’s a possibility lawmakers will fail to pass a budget cutting plan by midnight. He says if that happens, the governor could call them back for yet another special session, or the budget shortfall could be resolved in other ways.
“This entire issue could be rolled into the regular session and addressed as a supplemental appropriations bill. Lawmakers and the governor could act outside of session and try to implement some cuts on their own,” Alford said.