Louisiana Gov. Edwards lays out his state budget proposal
LAFAYETTE, LA (KSLA) - In a crowded gymnasium on a hot South Louisiana afternoon, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards addressed the state from a podium flanked by screens reading "Fight for our state. Fight for our people."
The governor's address Tuesday at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette comes as the state Legislature convenes to try to solve the state's budget crisis in this year's second special session.
The state faces a $648 million budget shortfall as temporary taxes passed in 2016 are set to expire at the end of June.
Edwards says this situation raises the stakes.
"What makes this special session different is that we've reached the end of the road. This is it. On June 30, $1.4 billion will be gone."
The bulk of the expiring money is in state sales tax revenue. In 2016, the Legislature approved a 1 percent tax increase, raising the state sales tax from 4 percent to 5 percent.
Edwards is calling for the Legislature to renew half of those expiring taxes, which would bring the state sales tax back down to 4.5 percent.
In addition to eliminating more than 100 exemptions and credits on the state sales tax, the plan would eliminate the double deduction on income tax.
This means Louisiana residents would no longer be able to deduct what they paid last year in state taxes on this year's taxes.
Louisiana is only one of five states that allows this type of deduction, according to Edwards.
The governor says his plan would retain enough of the expiring revenue to fill the state's budget hole and fully fund state partner hospitals, LSU Health Shreveport, TOPS scholarships and Medicaid.
The plan also would result in a $400 million tax cut for the state, according to the Edwards administration.
"We've got to stop living crisis to crisis if we want to make progress for the people of the state," Edwards said.
"My hope is that we can put aside our differences and put in place solutions that the people of Louisiana deserve."
The session began Tuesday at 4 p.m.
Lawmakers have until midnight June 4 to come up with a solution.
Following is the full text of Edwards' remarks as prepared for delivery:
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