“We have a chance & we have a choice,” Governor says to legislators before Special Session

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LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Governor John Bel Edwards delivered his “Our Louisiana” address on Tuesday in Lafayette to 1,100 people.
His remarks came as state lawmakers started another special session Tuesday afternoon, to try and fix the state’s financial troubles.

Instead of a traditional speech to legislators in front of the House and Senate to kick off the Special Session, Edwards chose to give his speech at University of Louisiana, one of the many higher education institutions threatened if the state’s budget issues aren’t fixed. 

“The decisions that are made inside the Capitol affect those of you outside of it. They affect all of us, so it just made sense to come here to talk about what lies ahead,” said Governor Edwards. 

This speech comes as the governor vetoed a $28 billion budget passed by the legislature on Friday.

“Simply put – the cuts were too deep, too wide, too catastrophic. We must do better,” said Edwards.

Come July 1, an estimated $1.4 billion in temporary taxes that were used to solve the state’s budget issues in 2015 and 2016, are expiring. The governor wants lawmakers to come up with $648 million to balance that gap.

“So, here’s what I am proposing. We cut the sales tax from its current rate of 5 percent,” said the Governor.

In his speech, Edwards says he supports renewing half of the 1% sales tax expiring on July 1, removing some tax breaks, and the continued charging of sales taxes on business utilities. 

Legislators on both sides of the aisle just hope to come to some sort of deal.

“I think the Republicans and the Democrats are looking for some kind of compromise, and that’s not just how we get to the total number, but what that total number is,” said Jean-Paul Coussan (R), State Representative for District 45.

“That the majority of the legislators can find some common ground, and we can move the state forward without any devastating cuts,” said Dustin Miller (D), State Representative for District 40.

The Governor says he knows it can be done, and is hopeful the state’s budget woes will soon be history.  

“One last time, we have a chance and we have a choice.  Will we seize this chance to keep this train on its tracks, or will we make the choice to fall off the fiscal cliff?
Will we seize this chance to continue to fund higher education, or will we make the choice to go back to the way things were, with cuts putting our children’s future in peril?” he said.

Lawmakers will have to find compromise on taxes and a budget, before their June 4 deadline.

To read the full transcript for the Governor’s speech click this link. 

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