JBE’s State Of The State

JBETV

Rare televised address to precede special session

In what appears to be an unprecedented move by a new administration, Gov. John Bel Edwards has requested air time from Louisiana’s television stations and will be granted as much on all major network affiliates statewide at 6:30 p.m. Thursday evening. 

Some stations are referring to it as Edwards’ “State of the State Address,” during which the governor is expected to discuss Louisiana’s massive budget shortfalls — $750 million for the current fiscal year and $1.9 billion for the next. 

The Edwards administration first contacted stations about the idea last week, on Thursday, Feb. 4, requesting an off-the-record telephone conference with general managers or, in their absence, news directors. In the private email messages, the administration referred to the budget shortfalls as “unprecedented” and noted that time was of the essence.  

“The hardworking families, students and individuals of the state need to understand the seriousness of this situation and the very real impact the current crisis could have on each of them,” the email read, adding toward the end of the communication, “The governor realizes that this may be an unusual request, but this is an unusual situation that demands urgent attention.”  

Several people involved with the conference call that took place on Friday, Feb. 5, say it went smoothly, with many network affiliates around the state agreeing on the spot to cooperate.  

It’s just one of many major events leading up to Sunday’s convening of the special session. Here’s your timeline:  

— TODAY, FEB. 10: The Revenue Estimating Conference is meeting and has already revised the budget shortfalls for this current fiscal year and the next. The budget holes of $750 million and $1.9 billion have been increased to $870 million and more than $2 billion.

— THURSDAY, FEB. 11, 6:30 PM: Gov. Edwards will deliver his State of the State Address on major network affiliates statewide. 

— SATURDAY, FEB. 13, 3:00 PM: The Edwards administration will present its executive budget proposal to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. Accompanying the budget proposal will be another document of revenue-raising suggestions from the administration. A study group created by the Legislature’s Republican delegations is also expected to have its plan for the special session ready around this time. 

— SUNDAY, FEB. 14, 4:00 P.M.: The House and Senate will gavel in the the three and a half week special session.  

Other REC Actions

When the Revenue Estimating Conference meets this morning, it will also put into place a new Incentive Expenditure Forecast. The concept will provide regular reports on 28 of Louisiana’s biggest tax incentive and credit programs. The reports will detail how much money is being paid out of each program and how much is being deducted from the most current tax collections because of them. It’s the result of Act 169 by Sen. Jack Donahue from the 2015 regular session. 

The REC will also revisit the state’s long-range revenue forecast. This will allow the administration and lawmakers to paint a broader fiscal picture with this year’s sessions by having potential shortfall numbers for the remainder of the current term.

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UPDATE

Here's the official press release that was emailed at 10:06 a.m.

JBEPR

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