Edwards accuses House members of dragging their feet; booze tax - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Edwards accuses House members of dragging their feet; booze tax fails for now

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BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) -

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Friday that he is less optimistic about the success of the special session because lawmakers in the House have dragged their feet on his proposals to end the budget crisis for the current fiscal year and the budget year that begins on July 1.

“So if the legislators think they've done their job because they gotten some what close to the $940 million hole this year, they are sadly mistaken,” said Edwards during a press conference just before noon on Friday.

The governor accuses some lawmakers of rejecting what he calls a comprehensive plan that includes spending cuts and tax hikes to resolve the back-to-back budget deficits without coming up with solutions of their own.

He called on the state house which is majority republican to approve a tax hike in the state tax for booze, but when the vote was taken up late in the afternoon it was six votes shy of the 70 needed for passage.

State lawmakers said the measure is not dead and can be brought up for reconsideration. But time is the big issue because the session must end by Wednesday at 6 p.m.

The governor said house members wasted “multiple days” this week instead of taking up proposals to erase the budget red ink.

"I'm prepared to accept the political scars that I walk away from this special session on, but what I am not prepared to do is to not do the people's business so that they suffer tremendously because of inaction from a legislature that refuses to move forward on the balanced comprehensive plan that I've given them, or come up with their own,” said the governor.

And making matters worse, lawmakers thought they were getting closer to closing the billion dollar deficit for this fiscal year with others measures they have approved this session, but overnight a fiscal note was updated and not for the better.  The gap is now $147 million.

“An expected revenue stream of $75 million was reduced to zero, so yesterday we thought we saw a light at the end of the tunnel and we may have to raise another $82 million and that would send us all home, it would have funded the public-private partnerships, the medical schools and higher ed,” Sen. Eric LaFleur told fellow senators Friday afternoon.

The state house is expected to work either Saturday or Sunday.

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