By Associated Press - Sunday, February 14, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Latest on the opening of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ special legislative session on state finances and taxes (all times local):

5:15 p.m.

Gov. John Bel Edwards urged state lawmakers to set aside partisan fights to solve Louisiana’s budget problems, as he spoke on the opening day of a special legislative session.

The Democratic governor called the session in hopes of persuading lawmakers to increase taxes to help plug some of the budget gaps. It began Sunday.

This year’s shortfall must be closed by June 30. It ranges from $850 million to $950 million. Next year’s budget hole tops $2 billion.



In his speech to the House and Senate, Edwards said he inherited a financial mess from his predecessor, Bobby Jindal. And he told lawmakers the holes are so deep that “we can’t just cut our way out of this crisis.”

Edwards said such hefty reductions would devastate public colleges and health care services.

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4:15 p.m.

Louisiana’s state lawmakers have opened a special legislative session called by Gov. John Bel Edwards to deal with the state’s deficit-riddled finances.

Edwards, a Democrat in office since January, aims to dig Louisiana out of its perpetual budget troubles with a wide array of tax proposals that could have most people and businesses paying more to the state treasury.

But Republicans, particularly in the House, have shown resistance to tax hikes so far. That sets up the potential for a partisan struggle to decide how to balance Louisiana’s budget.

Lawmakers gaveled in for work Sunday. The governor will lay out his agenda in an evening speech to a joint session of the House and the Senate.

The session can last up to 25 days, and must wrap up by March 9.

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12:30 p.m.

Valentine’s Day isn’t arriving with flowers or candy for Louisiana’s lawmakers, but with bleak budget discussions and tax talk.

The House and Senate on Sunday afternoon are opening a special legislative session called by Gov. John Bel Edwards to deal with the state’s deficit-riddled finances.

Edwards, in office since January, aims to dig Louisiana out of its perpetual budget troubles with a wide array of tax proposals that could have most people and businesses paying more to the state treasury.

But Republicans, particularly in the House, have shown resistance to tax hikes so far.

The 25-day session opens at 4 p.m. The Democratic governor lays out his agenda in a speech to lawmakers an hour later. All work in the session must wrap up by March 9.

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