Governor calls for special session to address budget shortfall

Published 5:38 pm Friday, February 3, 2017

On Friday, Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a call for a special session of the Louisiana Legislature to address the $304 million budget shortfall for the current fiscal year. The special session will convene at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 13 and conclude by midnight on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

“A special session of the legislature is necessary to spread cuts across government and minimize cuts to the critical state services the people of Louisiana consider to be important,” Edwards said. “As I have said, behind every number that we cut are real Louisianans whose lives will be impacted. We are taking a deliberative, responsible approach to cutting spending and balancing our cuts with the use of $119 million from the Rainy Day Fund. The fund was established for this very purpose, and given how deep these cuts will be without it, I am confident the legislature will support this effort until we can make the necessary reforms to our state’s budgeting practices.”

“If we can agree to work together during this time, I am confident we can adjourn this special session ahead of the deadline,” Gov. Edwards continued. “After years of budget shortfalls and mismanagement from the previous administration, there are no easy decisions anymore. The people of Louisiana are expecting us to put politics aside and solve this problem, and I am committed to being a partner with the legislature to make this happen.”

On Friday, Jan. 27, Gov. Edwards testified before the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget (JLCB) to outline his plan to address the shortfall without the need to raise additional revenue or fees. Gov. Edwards proposed using the Rainy Day Fund and making strategic spending cuts across a broad spectrum of state government, including, but not limited to, the Louisiana Department of Health, the legislature, the judiciary, and statewide elected officials. Gov. Edwards’ plan is to minimize cuts to higher education, waivers and partner hospitals, while avoiding cuts to K-12 education, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Children and Family Services.

On Monday, Feb. 6, Gov. Edwards will unveil the specific cuts he will propose to the legislature, in addition to tapping the Rainy Day Fund.

In April, the legislature will convene in a regular session to make bold reforms to the state’s broken tax code. During that session, the legislature will consider several reform measures recommended by a bipartisan task force that will give businesses and families predictability and stability in the tax code, while bringing in sufficient revenue to fund state government.