Special Session Cat-and-Mouse Begins

— THE BOTTOM LINE… is a bit fuzzy. If you ask the top supporters of Gov. John Bel Edwards, the special session is a go. Working under that assumption (at last glance Feb. 15 was a date being tossed around), Republicans are saying that such call would have to be made without the governor actually knowing whether he has 70 votes in the House for key revenue measures.

— THE TRICK… for the administration will be communicating to the public that Edwards is not alone in wanting the revenue-raising session. Part of that messaging started to come together today with a small band of Republican legislators (mainly from the upper chamber) that’s working to develop a statement of support for Edwards calling a special session.

— THE FEEDING FRENZY… at the Capitol on Press Row today was over the release of a letter to the governor from Speaker Taylor Barras. It outlined “budget and spending reform measures” supported by the GOP membership that would have to be linked to any successful revenue-raising bills.

— INCLUDED IN THE GOP GET-LIST… were state spending limits, which LaPolitics Weekly subscribers first learned about in October; a Louisiana Checkbook based off of the Ohio Checkbook model, which LW subscribers first learned about in December; and “Medicaid program reforms.”

— WHAT WE NEED TO REMEMBER… is that the letter does not constitute what was formerly known at the Capitol as a “deal.” It’s nothing more than an overview of what Republicans want to see on the budget side of the equation, not the revenue side, which is the side that matters when it comes to a compromise.

— THE MEDICAID WORK REQUIREMENT… referenced in the GOP’s get-list serves as an invitation to U.S. Sen. John Kennedy to enter the special session fray. Kennedy has made an issue over work requirements and recently asked the governor to meet with him and federal officials to get the process moving. Edwards declined and Kennedy, instead, met with key Republicans from the state House during last week’s Washington Mardi Gras festivities. On Monday Kennedy said to Times-Pic reporter Julia O’Donoghue, “Speaker Barras and his members have good reform ideas, and I offered to help in any way I can to ensure that actual spending reforms become a reality this year.”

— THE CAT AND MOUSE GAME… is still over revenue and taxes. Not budget reforms. JBE boosters are telling reporters that the administration is still waiting on a communication from the House leadership outlining what revenue-raisers can be stomached by the lower chamber. Republicans, meanwhile, are saying that isn’t true and that they, in contrast, are waiting on the governor to provide more information on his revenue-raising plan.

— WHAT EVERYONE REALLY WANTS… are reliable fiscal notes and revenue estimates. Or at least that’s what both sides are saying. Republicans claim they want good numbers for the administration’s suggestions and the governor contends he’s looking forward to seeing the fiscal notes on what the House GOP wants.

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