Louisiana lawmakers failed to reach a tax deal by Monday’s deadline, cratering their second special session this year without agreement and passing a budget that would force deep cuts across state government next month.
The House and Senate couldn’t agree on what level of taxes to raise in the budget year that begins July 1, and the House ended at midnight in meltdown as lawmakers tried to scramble to bring up a sales tax bill that was opposed by House GOP leaders.
Third time’s a charm? Gov. John Bel Edwards is certainly hoping that’s the case after two special sessions in the past four months have collap…
In the final minutes of the session, Rep. Alan Seabaugh, a Shreveport Republican, ran out the clock by staying at the microphone and blocking an attempt to reconsider the bill, which would have increased revenue by $504 million.
“Yes, I’m trying to run the clock out, because we’ve voted on this bill before, and it didn’t get 70 votes,” Seabaugh said, adding “the body has spoken.”
Early Tuesday morning, Gov. John Bel Edwards said he’ll call another special session to try to avoid steep slashing across the TOPS tuition program, college campuses, the child-welfare agency and public safety programs. He didn’t say when the session would start, but said it would end before the new budget year begins.
Here’s what Edwards and lawmakers had to say after the collapse of the special session:
— Edwards: “This was a sad night for the great people of our state. You saw a minority in the House let politics take priority over people. Our state deserves better.” The governor also called what happened in the final minutes in the House “a damn crying shame” and faulted the speaker of the House, Taylor Barras, R- New Iberia, for what he called a “total collapse of leadership.”
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— Rep. Andy Anders, D-Vidalia: “I’m really disappointed in the whole process.”
— Rep. Rob Shadoin, R-Ruston, on another special session: “If I were the governor, I wouldn’t call one. We’ve done this seven times out of nine sessions, what’s the use? I think if I were the governor I’d tell this House, ‘Okay, you want a special session? You call yourselves into it.’”
— Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe: “There were some Republicans and Democrats that came together at the end, to put the people first, and one Republican went to the mic and filibustered, which means we have to come back in the special session and spend about $500,000 more of the people’s money with the same options of bills on the table. We came in the session and only raised $30 million with a $600 million deficit. This is not putting the people first.”
— Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans: “We all have to own up for what a few people in the House of Representatives did because they’re selfish.” She added that what Seabaugh did at the end “was really disrespectful to the people of Louisiana” and said he should apologize.
— Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner: “There were a number of us that wanted to follow our party and do the right thing. We wanted a mix of cuts and revenue to move our state forward.” But once Harris’ bill failed, “there was one viable option left. And they filibustered and prevented a vote on it.”
— Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge: “This is what happens when folks want control of the body, but don’t know how to lead it.”
The Associated Press and the LSU Manship School News Service’s Kaylee Poche, Devon Sanders Paul Braun, Tryfon Boukouvidis and Drew White contributed to this report