BATON ROUGE — Gov. John Bel Edwards is calling a special legislative session to start next week, a precaution for the possibility that he won’t reach an agreement with lawmakers on Louisiana’s budget and that the House won’t resolve an impasse over a construction financing bill.
The session begins 30 minutes after the regular legislative session wraps up June 8 and could run through June 19. If the budget deals already have been reached, lawmakers could immediately adjourn.
Special session parameters to be issued Wednesday will include debate over Louisiana’s operating and construction budgets, but not taxes, according to information provided to The Associated Press by the governor’s office.
“Given the significant disagreements on the state’s operating budget, I am issuing this call as a precautionary measure. Should we come to an agreement on the operating and construction budgets, this special session will not be necessary,” Edwards said in a statement.
The Democratic governor has threatened to veto the operating budget bill if lawmakers pass the version crafted by House Republicans, which leaves $206 million unspent.
House GOP leaders say they are protecting agencies against the likelihood that revenues will come up short of expectations. Edwards says the proposal would make harmful and unnecessary cuts.
“The budget in its current form, as passed by the House, is a nonstarter. Therefore, the additional time could be necessary,” Edwards said.
The Senate hasn’t yet drafted its version of the budget, so it’s unclear if a deal can be struck.
Meanwhile, a dispute between House Republicans and Democrats has stalled a construction financing bill, at least temporarily.
If Edwards wanted the special session to start on the same day that the current lawmaking session ends, Louisiana’s constitution required the parameters to be issued this week, seven days in advance.