Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a call today for a 17-day special session of the Louisiana Legislature that will begin Feb. 19 and must end no later than March 7 to address the more than $1 billion fiscal cliff facing Louisiana on July 1. The governor’s call includes 17 items that have been discussed as part of his ongoing negotiations with legislative leadership over recent weeks.
“There is a growing consensus among lawmakers that the fiscal cliff can and should be addressed in February, and I agree,” Edwards said. “This special session will give us the opportunity to make reforms that we all know are needed in Louisiana to stabilize our budget and tax code making it more predictable and fair for Louisiana taxpayers. We are changing the status quo in Louisiana. After multiple meetings with House and Senate leadership, I feel confident that we are coming to an area of compromise that will allow us to make the changes we need to continue the momentum that we are seeing in our state.”
Gov. Edwards and House leadership have met over the last several weeks to develop a compromise plan to address the fiscal cliff. Today, Gov. Edwards reviewed the items in the call with Speaker of the House Taylor Barras and Senate President John Alario.
Gov. Edwards’ plan does not call for any net new revenue; instead, his plan includes the recommendations of the legislatively created Task Force on Structural Changes in Budget & Tax Policy to reform our system and replace the temporary measures enacted in 2015 and 2016 with a new, permanent structure. While more than $1.3 billion in revenue will expire on June 30, Gov. Edwards proposed replacing only $994 million of that revenue to ensure higher education, including TOPS, health care, and other priorities are adequately funded.
Gov. Edwards has taken a balanced approach to fixing state budget issues, cutting more than $600 million in state general funds since taking office. While the governor has worked to make state government more efficient and while the state economy is rebounding, catastrophic cuts to vital state services and priorities are inevitable if most of the expiring temporary revenue is not replaced.
More details regarding the plan to avoid the fiscal cliff will be released at a later date.