Now that the House has advanced the state budget to the upper chamber, senators have taken control of the revenue and spending process in what could become a last-minute dash to the finish line.
The ongoing regular session is set to adjourn on June 6 and Senate Finance Chairman Eric LaFleur, who is now steering House Bill 1, said he hopes to move the budget to the floor over the next week or so.
"We're going to meet up to Memorial Day weekend to hear public testimony,” LaFleur told LaPolitics. “We want to get it on the floor of the Senate by the second or third (of June).”
Should there be any major disagreements between the House, Senate and Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration over the session’s centerpiece spending plan, this timeframe could make a for a handful of tense, closing days.
If the Senate makes changes to the House version of the budget bill, and the House disagrees with those alterations, then both chambers will send representatives into a conference committee process to hammer out the differences.
Senators are already skeptical of siphoning $100 million from statuary dedications and fee collections for other priorities, like the TOPS scholarship program, as identified by the House. Also in question is funding for the state’s safety net hospitals and waivers for children with developmental disabilities.
The two chambers clashed over much less during the first special session and by all indications the ongoing regular session will lead into a second special session.