- Associated Press - Friday, February 19, 2016

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

3:15 p.m.

Gov. John Bel Edwards says the 1-cent sales tax increase he is proposing has to be the “cornerstone” of any budget rebalancing plan.

The governor’s proposal, sponsored by Monroe Rep. Katrina Jackson, would raise the state’s 4-cent sales tax by another penny on every dollar spent. The new tax wouldn’t have many of the exemptions and exclusions that are allowed for certain types of purchases from the other four pennies of the sales tax.

To get the money quickly to rebalance this year’s budget, the sales tax hike would kick in April 1 under the proposal.

It would raise an estimated $220 million for the fiscal year that ends June 30 and $910 million annually. That would go a long way toward addressing the state’s budget gaps.


2:50 p.m.

Gov. John Bel Edwards says he’s made progress in persuading lawmakers that Louisiana needs to raise taxes to avoid “catastrophic cuts” to state government services and colleges.

The Democratic governor said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press that he believes an “overwhelming majority” of lawmakers agree that it will take a mix of cuts and taxes to rebalance Louisiana’s budget.

But he acknowledges that doesn’t mean a consensus has been reached on what taxes should be raised - or that tax hike proposals have enough votes for passage yet in the House, where tax bills must start.

Edwards is proposing cuts, patchwork fixes and tax hikes to close a budget gap pegged at $850 million to $950 million for the budget year that ends June 30.


1:30 p.m.

As Louisiana’s special legislative session nears the end of its first week, no consensus has emerged for how to rebalance the budget.

The Senate is in a holding pattern, because most budget and tax bills must begin in the House. And the House hasn’t settled on its approach yet.

Lawmakers are negotiating behind the scenes, with Republicans showing resistance to Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ tax proposals and pushing for deeper cuts.

The House tax and budget committees have held daily hearings on tax proposals and spending cut scenarios, but have yet to vote on proposals.

Edwards is seeking cuts, short-term fixes and taxes to close a gap ranging from $850 million to $950 million for the budget year that ends June 30.

The session must end by March 9.

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