- Associated Press - Thursday, March 3, 2016

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

1:55 p.m.

After days of delays, the Louisiana House has started considering additional tax changes that could help balance the state budget.

Republican leaders in the House had stalled action on taxes for several days, while waiting for the Senate to unveil its package of proposed budget cuts. GOP lawmakers in the House said they wanted to know what gap remained in the budget before deciding what tax increases to support.

The Senate Finance Committee on Thursday advanced senators’ proposed cuts. The House a short time later then started debating tax bills.

Lawmakers in the House voted 73-25 to boost the cigarette tax from 86 cents per pack to $1.08 as part of its voting Thursday. The measure would raise an estimated $16 million for this year’s budget and $46 million annually.


1 p.m.

State senators have unveiled their plan to rebalance Louisiana’s short-term budget gap, seeking to lessen cuts proposed by the House and largely shield public colleges and health services from steep reductions.

But the plan requires the House to back $83 million more in taxes than the $293 million in tax hikes House lawmakers have agreed to raise for this year’s budget.

The Senate Finance Committee reworked the main budget rebalancing bill Thursday, outlining senators’ favored approach to closing a shortfall once estimated to top $900 million this year.

Senators want to reverse House-backed cuts that would nearly shutter the education department. Their plan would use money from a debt refinancing - and would require striking a deal with the House on additional taxes.

The special session must end next week.

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