GOP and Democratic leadership are optimistic that the February special session will end with a deal in place to fill the one billion dollar budget gap resulting from the expiration of sales taxes in July. The session will begin February 19th, and Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus Gene Reynolds says the two sides are getting close on an agreement.

“There’s some things that need to be worked out but, I feel like once we get there, the Republican caucus and the Democratic caucus, you know... we work together and we can get this done,” Reynolds said.

Governor John Bel Edwards says he’s open to making any deal that does not include renewing a temporary one cent sales tax that’s set to expire. Reynolds says it’s a non-starter for any negotiation.

“Sales tax is a dying source and it’s a volatile source.  It can go up and down.  We need a stable source and I think that’s what we’re going to look at,” said Reynolds.

House Republican Caucus Chairman Lance Harris of Alexandria says he’s looking forward to closing the deal with his colleagues in the capital.

“I think the only way to really be able to get to solutions is for us to be Baton Rouge and debate and file those bills that are necessary to get there,” said Harris

Governor Edwards has pushed for replacing the expiring one cent sales tax by eliminating certain sales tax deductions aimed at businesses in certain industries. Harris says he’s open to eliminating those deductions, if it’s coupled with spending reductions.

“I’ve always been an advocate of that.  I think that we need to level the playing field and really reduce spending when it comes to the tax code before you talk about extracting more money out of the regular tax payers’ pockets,” said Harris.