Gov. Edwards says lawmakers have days left to approve a budget: 'But there is no time to waste'

Governor John Bel Edwards said during a stop in the Crescent City he is not sold on talk by some in the legislature that another special session will be needed soon to complete work on the budget for the approaching new fiscal year.
And Edwards said a proposal in the current special legislative session that would keep in place one-third of the soon to expire extra penny tacked on to the state sales tax will not fill enough budget holes.
At the state capitol this week, it is a scenario that has played out a lot in recent years: legislators under pressure to approve a budget to operate state government for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

"I'm a little more confident today on it, I'm not going to say I'm fully confident for some strange reason we were in Day 7 of a 14-day season before the Appropriations Chairman chose to file an appropriations bill and so, but there is time to move it, but there is no time to waste, said the governor when answering reporters questions after delivering a speech at an event focused on coastal issues in Louisiana.

The latest special session on the ongoing budget woes must end Monday. In terms of state government funding, there is a nearly $700-million dollar shortfall for the new budget year.
"We need to fully fund TOPS and our higher education system and so many other needs and we can do this,” said the governor
"While we're talking about the deficit that we understand the real-life connections to every dollar that's connected to a service, that it has a face behind that service,” Sen. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge said at the state capitol.
The Republican-controlled legislature passed a state budget for the new fiscal year during the recently ended regular legislative session, but Gov. Edwards vetoed it over the level of budget cuts it contained.
Edwards said during his New Orleans stop that he does not think a proposal by Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, to keep a third of the expiring temporary sales tax in place until 2023 fits the bill.

"If you take that money and include it in the budget there is still about a $30-million dollar cut to the TOPS Program, about a $30-million dollar cut to higher education, but we're not funding the corrections system, we're not funding DCFS so that they can take care of our foster children, there are still not funding for sheriffs that house our inmates,” said Edwards.

And Governor Edwards stressed that the budget he would like to see ultimately approved by state lawmakers during this special session would fully fund state hospitals like University Medical Center in New Orleans.  Recently, the hospital held a press conference to express concerns about possible deep budget cuts and the consequences that would result.

"I support keeping a half because we will still reduce the overall tax burden of the state of Louisiana, we can cut the 5th penny in half but we can fund all of the priorities like the partner hospital here in New Orleans, like the medical school in New Orleans and so forth, so the range of disagreement is getting smaller and it's coming into focus,” said Gov. Edwards.
And the governor does not agree with those who believe another special session may be needed to complete work on the state budget which needs to take effect at the start of July.

"Certainly, there's a chance but I hope it's unlikely, I think it's unlikely. There won't be another option available to us in yet another special session that isn't available to us now and we have the time between now and midnight on Monday,” said Gov. Edwards.

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Copyright 2018 WVUE. All rights reserved.