- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Latest on the special legislative session (all times local):

2:25 p.m.

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ proposals to tap into some short-term fixes to plug holes in this year’s budget have started advancing in the Louisiana Legislature.

Without objection Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee agreed to measures that would spend $128 million from the “rainy day” fund and redirect $200 million in Gulf oil spill recovery money to help rebalance the budget before the fiscal year ends June 30.

Those two pieces of legislation head next to the full Senate for consideration.

The $25 billion budget has a shortfall ranging from $850 million to $950 million, with only four months remaining to close the gap. In addition to the revenue proposals, Edwards has proposed a mix of cuts and tax increases to fill the rest of the hole.

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12:45 p.m.

The chief financial officer for Louisiana’s health department says the privatized state hospitals that care for the uninsured are likely to take steep cuts over the next four months.

Jeff Reynolds, department undersecretary, said Tuesday that under the best-case scenario of reductions his agency faces, $130 million would be stripped from the hospitals.

Reynolds told the House Appropriations Committee hospital managers likely would ration patient care in response, lengthening wait times for services. Or he said the managers could walk away from the deals entirely.

And that’s if lawmakers gathered in a special session agree to raise taxes.

Reynolds says even with the taxes sought by Gov. John Bel Edwards, his department faces a $64 million cut before June 30, which grows to $169 million with lost federal matching cash.

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