Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a call for a special session of the Louisiana Legislature. The special session will convene at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 8, 2017, and it must adjourn by midnight on Monday, June 19, 2017. Gov. Edwards issued the call as a precautionary measure in light of recent developments in the legislature and gridlock related to the state operating budget, House Bill 1, and the state construction budget, House Bills 2 and 3. The special session is not to address the fiscal cliff that will hit on July 1, 2018. The call does not include the option to raise additional revenue in the special session.
"Given the significant disagreements on the state’s operating budget, I am issuing this call as a precautionary measure," said Gov. Edwards. "Should we come to an agreement on the operating and construction budgets, this special session will not be necessary. However, the budget in its current form is a nonstarter, therefore, the additional time could be necessary. The work before us for the next week is critically important, and I’m asking members of the legislature to work with me to adopt a responsible budget that adequately funds the state’s priorities."
The call for the special session allows for the consideration of four items:
Item 1: The Supplemental Appropriations Bill
Item 2: The State Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2017-2018
Item 3: The Capital Outlay Budget and Capital Outlay Program for Fiscal Year 2017-2018
Item 4: The Omnibus Bond Authorization Act of 2017 to fund the Capital Outlay Program
According to state law, seven days are required between the issuance of the call and when the special session can convene. The complete call is available by clicking here.
On July 1, 2018, Louisiana faces a $1.3 billion fiscal cliff due to the fact that the legislature passed legislation that provided temporary revenue for the state primarily in the form of a sales tax. The revenue was meant to stabilize the budget which, at the time, was facing a $2 billion shortfall inherited from the previous administration. The current regular session is the last “fiscal session” before the cliff.
In addition to supporting the recommendations of a bipartisan task force created by the legislature, which spent more than 125 hours studying the state’s budgeting practices and how to reform Louisiana’s broken tax and budget structure, Gov. Edwards offered a comprehensive plan to the legislature as an alternative to the task force recommendations. The governor’s plan included a tax cut for 90 percent of all Louisianans, the removal of the fifth penny of sales tax on July 1, 2018 and a good-faith effort to stop the practice of allowing 80 percent of corporations operating in Louisiana to pay nothing in income taxes. The Governor's plan, taken as a whole, would lower rates across the board for individuals and businesses, broaden the tax base, and provide the budget stability for which people and businesses from all corners of the state have advocated. The House leadership has blocked the task force’s recommendations, blocked the governor’s alternative plan, as well as plans from members of their own party.