Still no deal at Louisiana special session to close nearly billi - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Still no deal at Louisiana special session to close nearly billion-dollar gap

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Baton Rouge -

With less than a week to go before the end of the special budget session, lawmakers still don't have a deal to close the nearly billion-dollar budget gap.

And legislators are still fighting over how to close that budget hole, which looms July 1, due to expiring temporary taxes.

As the speaker of the House said his closing remarks Thursday evening, he said the special session is "do or die" as efforts to close the budget hole have failed.

It's the eleventh day of the special session and every day that lawmakers meet, it costs taxpayers between $50-60,000.

The House is divided about what type of taxes to support and whether or not there should be more cuts in the state budget.

"It's been chaotic. That's how I would describe it."

That chaos was not on display Thursday as most of the day was spent in recess.

But on Wednesday, a free-for-all erupted in the House chamber as legislators argued about a sales tax proposal.

"I could support sales tax. There's some income tax measures I couldn't get behind; I couldn't support, but sales tax, I think, is a fair tax. It's applied across the board evenly. If I want to buy a Cadillac, I would expect to pay a little more than if I want to buy a Nissan," said Lake Charles Representative Stephen Dwight.

While Dwight can bring the proposal back for discussion on Friday, he's not sure that he will.

"I thought I had the democratic support, you know. I had spoken to them earlier through the process, and I felt like I had their support. And we brought the votes, and obviously, there were some things behind the scenes that I wasn't aware of, and the votes weren't there," said Dwight.

Crowley Representative John Stefanski said he voted against the proposal because he feels Louisiana doesn't need more taxes.

"I voted against it because I'm not seeing a plan. I'm seeing 'let's keep this ship afloat.' I'd like to see wholesale spending reform. It doesn't necessarily mean we have to replace all of that rolling-off tax base with more taxes, you know. There's a middle ground there," said Stefanski.

And while the discussion will continue Friday, Stefanski said he doesn't expect anything major to happen.

"I'm hopeful that we can come together and find some sort of compromise, but to be honest with you, it's not looking good. From a budget standpoint, I would love to see some permanent cuts to the state budget as well as plugging some of that gap," he said.

The lawmakers will reconvene at the Capitol Friday morning at 10 a.m.

If lawmakers can't reach a deal to close the nearly one-billion-dollar gap by March 7, then they would return for a sixth special session in June.

The last governor to call more than 5 special sessions in a single term was Buddy Roemer.

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