The special session is off to a slow start as legislators struggle to find a fix to the $648 million budget shortfall that could devastate healthcare and education. $1.4 billion in sales taxes are set to expire, and Governor John Bel Edwards has called on legislators to renew a portion of that to fix state finances. Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne says that would save education and healthcare from deep cuts.

"That fix requires about $648 million, which is far less than the 1.4 billion dollars that rolls off the books on July 1," said Dardenne.

The governor vetoed a budget passed at the end of the regular session that hacked higher ed and state agency budgets, and no budget bill has been filed for the special session. Dardenne says the clock is running down on an opportunity to save the budget.

"Frankly, if we are not successful in this special session, we only have about three weeks left in the current fiscal year and we'll be back here in another special session no doubt to try and address this," said Dardenne.

Houma Representative Republican Beryl Amedee says the governor’s decision to veto the budget has caused chaos in the capitol, and threatens to throw a wrench in the legislative process.

"Now we sit here with no budget and we now have 12 days where we are expected to draft a new one, when it took us three months to work out the last one, it just seems irrational," said Amedee.
Amedee says she’s having a hard time justifying any renewal of the expiring taxes to plug the budget gaps while her home district is struggling economically.
"Unlike what I'm hearing the governor telling the rest of the state, House District 51 is not in economic recovery yet, we still have businesses struggling to stay afloat," said Amedee.
The special session must conclude June 4.

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