Could opposition to another special session make it counterproductive?

Could opposition to another special session make it counter-productive?

BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - As the regular legislative session winds down, Gov. John Bel Edwards is poised to issue "the call" for another special session he believes is imperative given the state's ongoing money problems.

Proposed reductions in some tax breaks could be on the agenda.

But given the opposition some Republicans in the legislature have to a June special session, political observers wonder whether keeping lawmakers at the state Capitol once the regular sessions ends on June 6 would be productive.

"What's clear is that we need a special session in Louisiana to solve the structural budget deficit, but the question right now is timing. It's unclear if a special session was called if it would accomplish just about anything because there's still not consensus on how to fix this structural deficit," said FOX 8 political analyst Mike Sherman.

A penny was added to the state sales tax during the March special session and the governor has indicated proposing another sales tax increase is not on his radar. Sherman believes that is prudent.

"Right now Louisianians are feeling the budget crisis every time they go buy something at the store with that one-percent sales tax, and if the structural deficit isn't fixed, people who use TOPS, people who use health services, are going to start feeling it in their pocketbooks as well," Sherman stated.

The governor has talked about the need for structural budget changes, including an overhaul of the tax code, given the persistent budget problems state government has weathered in recent years. In terms of the special session, the administration appears to be looking at trimming breaks.

"We've been in conversations with the governor's office and how we might be able to help and leverage more federal dollars to bring back to the state of Louisiana," said Jeff Drozda, CEO of the Louisiana Association of Health Plans.

Before the March special session, the Edwards Administration proposed reducing an investment tax credit related to the premium tax insurance companies have to pay.

"The one proposal that I think we'll see in the call is that of addressing a premium tax increase and looking at how that would be impacting the industry and how that may or may not impact rates. We are taking a serious look at how that  would affect the citizens in this state and how that would affect industry, but I think the goal is that if an additional $126 million could be raised here in the state, leverage that and we could an additional total of $300 million dollars," he said, referring to matching dollars.

But Republicans in house and the big business lobby are dug in. They believe a June special session to look at revenue measures would be premature because the full impact of the tax hikes approved in March are not fully known.

"They've been up there almost the entire year since the governor has been sworn in, and maybe there's just fatigue up there and he's hoping folks will want to get home and pass something quick," Sherman said.

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