Gov. Edwards calls for second special session to address historic budget shortfall

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BATON ROUGE (WGNO) – Gov. John Bel Edwards has called for a second special session, as lawmakers are about $600 million away from balancing the state’s budget without devastating cuts.

Edwards said in a news release that lawmakers still need to come up with another $600 million to close the budget gap. That’s after they met in February before the regular session and raised hundreds of millions through tax revenues.

When Edwards took office in January, the state was facing a $1 billion shortfall for the current budget cycle that ends June 30 and a $2 billion deficit for the upcoming budget cycle that starts July 1.

The second session will convene at 6:30 p.m. June 6 and adjourn by midnight June 23.

“Without the special session, K-12 education, higher education, life-saving health care services and TOPS will face unnecessary cuts,” the governor’s office said in a news release.

He said without more revenue, K-12 education will face another $50 million in cuts, higher education will be hit with $47 million in cuts, and TOPS scholarships and critical health care services will also face significant cuts.

“There is no question in my mind that these programs are important, but there is simply no way we can adequately fund these priorities with the revenue currently available,” Edwards said. “No one, especially me, likes raising taxes or implementing painful cuts, but we are in a difficult spot living in the aftermath of year of budget gimmicks and tricks. It is time for all of us to make the tougher, wiser choices now, rather than the easier choices that feel good now but would hurt our state long-term.”

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