Barras’ Ultimatum, JBE’s Tax Reduction & Talk Of A “Reasonable Compromise”

— Has Speaker Taylor Barras issued an ultimatum? Reporters and Gov. John Bel Edwards seem to think so. Journos put out the word via Twitter last night, tweeting that Barras wouldn’t adjourn the House early in this regular session unless the Senate passes a budget. In a morning speech to One Acadiana members, Edwards added to the storyline by suggesting Barras likewise wants the Senate to pass the House’s bills for ride-sharing and Harrah’s New Orleans Hotel and Casino as part of this supposed deal. “I’m not 100 percent on where that stands,” the governor added.

— Disclaimer: If recent legislative history has taught us anything, it’s probably best to wait to hear what else the speaker says publicly before entering full panic mode.

— Twice during his morning speech to One Acadiana, Edwards noted that his plan for next fiscal year will result in a  net tax reduction and not a tax increase. “We can reduce the tax burden by $400 million — that is my plan — from this year to next, and we can adequately fund our critical priorities.” The governor later added, “Taxes can be $400 million less next year and we can still fix our problems.” (Background: The reduction comes as a result of the original shortfall figure of $1.4 billion being subtracted from the next shortfall the REC recognized, $994 million. The larger number is not being subtracted from the latest revenue forecast because it was diminished due to federal tax changes that amount to a tax on people.)

— So what is the governor’s plan? How does he suggest lawmakers reach $648 million in permanent revenue? He said a “reasonable compromise” would include using half of the most recently created penny in the state sales tax structure, cleaning the other four pennies and removing the sunset from the temporary reductions made to rebates and credits. “If you do those three things I mentioned, you get very close to $648 million,” Edwards said.

— The governor also dropped these words of wisdom on One Acadiana members: “Everything in this building has become difficult.”


MORE SESSION NOTES

— Ways & Means Chair Neil Abramson has temporarily delayed his HB 500 to call a constitutional convention. (Read: temporarily) (Side note: LABI’s making yet another push for HB 500, asking voters to contact their legislators. The “Reboot The Boot” appeal reads, “Our sordid history doesn’t have to become our future. It’s time to move on from our ‘colorful’ past and create the better Louisiana we have long deserved.”)

— HB 3, the bonding mechanism for the capital outlay program, failed on the House floor yesterday 64-24, falling short of the 70 votes needed. Democrats banded together to block the bill. Republicans marked as absent were Reps. Raymond Crews, Greg Cromer, Chris Leopold and Tanner Magee. Republicans voting again included Reps. Kenny Havard and Steve Pylant. (That’s six Republicans votes that could bring the yeas to 70.)

— The Senate Finance Committee will likely wrap up its budget hearings next week. But there’s still no word yet on whether senators will move the actual budget in the regular session.

— Lafayette General Medical Center has sent layoff notices, with all credit given to the uncertainty surrounding the budget. UMC New Orleans may be next. “I don't think it'll happen,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said this morning of the layoff warnings, “but if we don't fix the problem, (the hospitals) will close on June 30.”

— House GOP Delegation Chair Lance Harris told the Baton Rouge Press Club yesterday that, for him at least, the issue of income taxes is off of the table for the special session.

— The $3.7 billion MFP formula in SCR 48 has been passed without objection or debate off of the Senate floor. “We would have asked for more money if we thought you had some,” BESE member Holly Boffy told senators yesterday.

— Via Melinda Deslatte: “Once viewed as long-shots, these bills are surprisingly advancing in Louisiana Legislature” 

— More Mad Dog: “Plans to divvy up Louisiana surplus money wins House passage

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