Taylor Barras

Lawmakers in the Louisiana House are opening their budget hearings amid a new round of partisan financial disputes.

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and House Republican leaders are arguing over how much money Louisiana is collecting in taxes and whether to spend it all.

Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras has blocked economists' recommendations to increase the state income forecast and make more money available for next year's budget.

Edwards proposed a 2019-20 spending plan that assumes the money eventually will be recognized.

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U.S. Senator John Kennedy is asking the state legislature to hold off on voting a bill that extends Harrah’s New Orleans Casino’s contract with the state for 30 years. Kennedy says media reports that Harrah’s is considering selling the property so the state could unwittingly increase Harrah’s selling price by extending the contract.

 

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First Assistant Kyle Ardoin will take over the agency that handles elections starting May 8th . Ardoin is replacing Secretary of State Tom Schedler, who submitted his resignation papers in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal. Ardoin knows he’s been put in charge during a pivotal time for the department.

 

Ardoin says, "The purchasing of new voting equipment and the perfection of the 2018 congressional midterm elections are high profile, high stakes, and high impact for voters across this state." 

 

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The revenue shortfall the state is facing has declined from 994-million-dollars to 648-million-dollars, as a result of the state collecting more income taxes due to the federal tax overhaul. House Speaker Taylor Barras says the extra money would likely go for higher education and the TOPS program.

 

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The regular session kicks off today, and Governor John Bel Edwards is hoping the legislature gets more accomplished than the special session that ended without a clear solution to the fiscal cliff. The special session was notable for its stark partisan divides, which Edwards says were the worst he’s seen in a decade.

 

Edwards says, "The level of acrimony and distrust is beyond anything that I've seen in the ten years that I've been involved in state government."

 

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The House is set to try again today on passing tax proposals that will go towards closing a one-billion dollar budget deficit. A sales tax bill that would generate 300-million dollars anually was soundly defeated on Wednesday, but House Speaker Taylor Barras says that measure is still a critical part of addressing the fiscal cliff.

 

Lawmakers are running out of time as the special session to pass revenue generating measures must end Wednesday night. Barras says we’ll know after today on whether this special session will be successful.

 

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A bill to create a transparency tool called Louisiana Checkbook passed the House Appropriations committee, and may be considered on the house floor later this week. The program closely mirrors Ohiocheckbook.com, where Ohio residents are presented a detailed report about state expenses. House Speaker Taylor Barras says it’s a user friendly tool for the public.

 

According to Barras, the Louisiana Checkbook could be "...one of the most interactive tools for gathering the financial data of state agencies." 

 

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The special session kicks off today to address a one billion dollar shortfall. Legislators have until March 7th to find a fix to the looming fiscal cliff or else cuts will occur in the areas of higher education and health care. Council for a Better Louisiana President Barry Erwin says the governor has talked privately with house speaker Taylor Barras on solutions.

 

Early reports say legislators are making progress on a fix the to one billion dollar budget gap. Erwin says even though a deal isn’t currently on hand, he expects some agreement to be made.

 

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Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras provides Governor John Bel Edwards with budget cutting proposals as part of the negotiations to solve a nearly billion dollar shortfall. House Republican delegation chairman Lance Harris says in an effort to reduce health care spending, so they would like to see work requirements for certain people who receive Medicaid.