- Associated Press - Monday, March 7, 2016

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

8:25 p.m.

A group of House Republicans say they won’t accept a deal offered by Gov. John Bel Edwards to fill the remaining gaps in the state budget.

Several GOP lawmakers in the House have been floating the idea of raising the state sales tax higher than a proposed 1 percent increase already backed by both the House and the Senate.

Rep. Lance Harris, chairman of the House Republican delegation, said the Democratic governor indicated Monday he would only be willing to consider such a larger sales tax if it was coupled with two other measures.

Harris said those measures include a doubling of a tax break program for the working poor, which would cost $47 million a year, and the lessening of a tax break for middle- and upper-income taxpayers.

Twenty Republicans who held a press conference said they won’t support those measures.


7:40 p.m.

The House has chipped away at the state’s budget problem slightly, sending to the Senate a proposal to decrease some state sales tax breaks.

The measure would shrink tax cuts that businesses get for their utility costs and their equipment purchases, among other changes, expiring after three years. Republican Rep. Jay Morris estimated the bill would generate about $20 million for this year’s budget and more than $110 million next year.

But House Republicans continued to reject other tax measures the Senate, House Democrats and Gov. John Bel Edwards had hoped could be used to drum up new money.

On Monday, the House spurned a bill that would reduce a property tax break for businesses, amid a fierce lobbying effort from the oil and gas industry, car dealers and other businesses.

The special session must end by 6 p.m. Wednesday.


11:30 a.m.

With a Wednesday deadline fast approaching, the House and Senate are trying to strike a deal to keep from cratering this year’s budget and forcing widespread cuts on health care and colleges.

But House Republicans have rejected several tax measures the Senate, House Democrats and Gov. John Bel Edwards had hoped could be used to drum up new money for the treasury.

The House late Sunday rejected bills that would lessen business tax breaks, including a proposal to lower an exemption for businesses from paying sales taxes on utilities. Lawmakers may try to bring the measures up again Monday.

The special session must end by 6 p.m. Wednesday. Lawmakers are about $150 million to $200 million short of rebalancing this year’s budget and even further away on next year’s budget.

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