Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards is meeting with Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras today to continue negotiations centered on the looming fiscal cliff.

Edwards set a January 19th deadline to come up with an agreement in principle on a plan to address a one billion dollar shortfall.

“The governor has stated very clearly that he wants a revenue neutral budget, but the problem is that Republicans want a budget that is cut and want to reduce spending,” said political analyst Bernie Pinsonat.

The governor’s plan includes allowing the fifth penny of the state sales tax to expire, but remove sales tax exemptions that benefit businesses. The plan echoes the recommendations of a bipartisan legislative taskforce.

But Republicans want to also reduce state spending. Pinsonat is skeptical an agreement can be reached by the January 19th deadline.

“They haven’t done it in the last two years, they’ve gone into the session and fought it out. There’s never been an agreement going into the last two sessions where the governor and the Republicans were on the same page.”

Edwards has said he wants to solve the fiscal cliff with a revenue neutral tax plan, but Barras says he also wants to reduce state spending. Pinsonat doesn’t see either side budging much.

“It’s a big gamble by both sides. Remember that the polling we’ve seen is that the governor is popular, but the public, especially the Republicans base agree with them on more spending cuts.”

If the two parties don’t come to an agreement before the end of an expected February special session, the governor would be forced to submit a balanced budget reflecting a one billion dollar cut in state spending, most of which would target healthcare and education.

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