Capitol Views: Early budget trajectory powered by politics

Despite being about $700 million short on cash, and with no comprehensive plan in place yet for spending reductions, there still appears to be a fragile path developing for the state budget document to reach the House floor. Initial committee hearings for House Bill 1—the fiscal centerpiece of each regular session—commenced this morning in the House Appropriations Committee and key players suspect there will be an earnest effort among conservatives to eventually send it to the governor’s desk.

With Republicans outnumbering Democrats 19-7 on Appropriations (not including ex officio members), conservatives could have the muscle to send a cut-heavy document to the full House. “There’s nothing (Democrats) can do successfully in this committee,” said Speaker Pro Tem Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, who serves on Appropriations.

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne believes a second special session is inevitable, to both pass a budget for the fiscal year that begins July and to raise enough revenue to cover part or all of the anticipated $700 million shortfall. Moreover, Gov. John Bel Edwards asked Speaker Taylor Barras and President John Alario today to pass resolutions to set an early or mid-May end date for the regular session, to make way for the calling of the year’s second special session…


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