Edwards to tell state lawmakers to adjourn regular session early so another special session can begin

BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - After a stop at Louis Armstrong Airport, Gov. John Bel Edwards talked about how he hopes to fix the ongoing state budget mess after the latest special session failed to do so.

Come Monday, Edwards will address a joint session of the legislature on the opening day of the annual regular session.

"This is a regular session that is not a fiscal session, so we cannot fix the fiscal cliff. And by the way, without fixing the cliff we're not going to pass a budget in my estimation. We certainly won't pass one that I can sign, because we won't adequately fund our critical priorities," said the governor.

Over a billion in temporary taxes expire July 1, creating a shortfall in the budget proposed by the governor for the new fiscal year.

"I'm going to tell the legislature that I expect them to adjourn early so that we can have a special session to address these issues, so that it can adjourn by June 4th, which is the adjournment date for the regular session, so we don't have to visit any additional cost to the taxpayers of Louisiana," Edwards said.

"If it's going to be run like the last one and the governor is going to call another special session on the hopes that he has the support to do what he wants to do, no," said Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie.

Henry is chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Edwards blames the Republican House Speaker Rep. Taylor Barras for the outcome of the special session.

"Obviously, we didn't get the job done in Baton Rouge. It's inexcusable. I gave the speaker the exact call he wanted that had every revenue measure, every reform measure, in terms of the budget reforms he said he wanted and absolutely nothing got out of the House to fix the cliff," said the governor.

Henry places blame in the other direction.

"Really the argument stemmed from the governor's relationship with House Democrats. Republicans really stepped up with not only authoring some of the tax bills, but being willing to vote for some just to get bills over to the Senate," said Henry.

The governor said without new revenue, painful budget cuts will be needed, affecting the popular TOPS scholarship and state-funded health care.

"I think some of the legislators and senators have come to the light that if we don't do something, TOPS is going to be gone and a lot of their constituents rely on TOPS," said Rep. John Bagneris, D-New Orleans.

FOX 8 News asked the governor if he will engage in arm-twisting to get the budget crisis solved.

"Well, look. We're going to keep working with people. I'm not going to call it twisting arms. I'm going to be appealing to their sense of reason and to their sense of compassion, because that didn't happen and we have folks who are still looking at political wins and losses rather than what's right for the state of Louisiana. It's time for more people to think as Louisianians first and foremost and not as Republicans and Democrats," said the governor.

The governor's administration has warned that when the state cuts back on its funding for public health care it loses much more in federal dollars.

"People wondering whether our partner hospitals are going to be there, Medicaid services," said the governor.

"It's just typical Washington politics in Louisiana," said Bagneris.

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