BATON ROUGE, LA (KSLA) - Louisiana lawmakers are turning to the state's Budget Stabilization Fund, also known as the Rainy Day Fund, to address the state's $304 million budget shortfall.
The first day of deliberations in the 2017 First Extraordinary Session of the Louisiana Legislature began Tuesday at 2 p.m. inside the state capitol in Baton Rouge.
Right out of the gate, lawmakers are turning to the state's Budget Stabilization Fund, also known as the Rainy Day Fund.
That fund is one of three key components of Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards' plan to fill a $304 million state budget shortfall.
As the combined Legislature convened Monday night, Edwards pitched his plan involving a withdrawal of more than $119 million from the fund.
That's one-third of the fund.
Still, Edwards said it would only fill around 40% of the shortfall.
"This is the most justified use of the Rainy Day Fund in my decade of public service," Gov. Edwards said.
However, Shreveport lawmakers stood divided on that notion.
Senator Gregory Tarver, (D) Shreveport, told KSLA he'll more than likely vote "No" on using the Rainy Day money. He said he believes that would just kick the can down the road and leave them with less money for financial difficulties in the future.
"I've been here in the Legislature for 26 years and I'm going to be honest with you, I'm tired of kicking the can down the road and I think that's exactly what they're doing right now," Tarver told KSLA.
On the flip side, Rep. Barbara Norton, (D) Shreveport, said she'll vote "Yes" because she doesn't see any other choice.
"I'll vote 'Yes' on the Rainy Day Fund. I don't see any other funding out there, sources out there, that we can pull from."
Both the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Committee on Finance were set to meet at 2 p.m.
The Senate Committee's agenda shows they will specifically discuss opening up the dollars inside the Rainy Day Fund for appropriations.
The other main parts of Gov. Edwards' plan to cover the budget shortfall include $60 million in cuts and more than $127 million in reductions and adjustments to the Department of Health.
Edwards also outlined plans to cut excess funds from the different branches of state government, including reducing more than $3 million in state general funds to the judiciary and more than $1 million in state general funds to the legislature.
The governor's plan also includes cutting $8 million in excess funds from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's Office to construct a new office building. Edwards said this cut will not impact the work of the legislative auditors.
If lawmakers adhere to this plan, Edwards said K-12 education and higher education will be spared from any more cuts.