Exclusive: Louisiana governor remains hopeful ahead of third special session

EXCLUSIVE: On eve of another special session, LA governor takes a stand and defends himself

BATON ROUGE, LA (KSLA) - Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards thinks the third time will be the charm for his state's Legislature.

As lawmakers prepare to head back to Baton Rouge for another special session Monday, Edwards says he feels better about the chances they will reach a compromise.

"I believe that we are poised for success. We see a lot more private citizens getting involved," he said.

"I think the sense of urgency is greater, and I think there's more of an understanding of what the stakes are."

This will be the Legislature's third attempt this year at trying to solve the budget crisis.

Two other special sessions ended in failure earlier this year.

Louisiana is set to head off a fiscal cliff July 1 if the Legislature can't agree on a way to fund the $507 million still needed for next year's budget.

If that happens, officials say:

  • the state's food stamp program, known as SNAP, would end;
  • TOPS scholarships would be cut by 30 percent;
  • higher education would face more than $90 million in cuts; and,
  • the Department of Corrections, law enforcement and district attorneys' offices would face damaging cuts as well.

"There's no one more frustrated than I am," the governor said. "These are things that should just never happen. It's not necessary, and there's a relatively easy, straightforward solution."

A plan that both Edwards and the Louisiana Senate supported failed by six votes in the House of Representatives in the most recent special session.

Edwards says he remains optimistic that this time the Legislature will pass a plan that funds the budget.

"I don't want to become despondent. I don't want anyone else to become despondent, either."

The special session begins at 4 p.m. Monday.

Lawmakers then will have until 6 p.m. June 27 to come up with a solution.

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