Budget moving in Louisiana special session but hurdles remain

The Louisiana House has a spending plan – a nearly $28.5 billion general operating budget, plus another $400 million in funds contingent upon any revenue raised before the special session ends Monday.

With less than three days left to work, budget and tax bills are being fast-tracked at the Capitol in what feels like a Herculean effort to stave off yet another special session and shore up the state's finances — at least for now.

"We have a lot of work to do in a short period of time," House Appropriations Chair Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, said on the chamber floor before the House voted on his two spending proposals, House Bill 1 and House Bill 35, on Thursday.

The Senate plans to work through the weekend to fast-track the budget and move tax legislation that is meant to address the $650 million fiscal cliff the state faces when temporary tax measures expire June 30.

The special session, which is the Louisiana Legislature's second of the year and sixth since February 2016 — all to address budget issues, must end by midnight Monday. If no budget wins final approval, lawmakers will be forced to hold another special session to adopt one by July 1.

Combined, HB1 and HB35, don't cut government services as deeply as a separate budget approved during the regular session. Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, vetoed that proposal, calling it "catastrophic" because it reflected cuts from the fiscal cliff.

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