The possibility of a June special session still weighs heavily on the minds of those working in the governor’s office — it would, after all, be the fourth special session called by Gov. John Bel Edwards since his swearing-in ceremony in January 2016.
But the only way that happens is if lawmakers fail to produce a budget in the regular session that adjourns on June 8. The House and Senate are currently negotiating the budget bill, for which the bodies have drastically different visions.
The Legislature failing to pass a balanced budget would not be unprecedented, but is a rare occurrence. If it does happen next month, lawmakers would have to begin their work again immediately.
What’s more likely, according to a spokesperson for the governor, is a special session being called at a later date to address a $1.3 billion hole slated for next year due to the expiration of temporary taxes.
Edwards as well as legislative leaders are doubtful that enough new revenue can be created in the regular session that ends in just a few weeks.
The House, in particular, has failed to come to an agreement on several major tax policies this session. That said, a fourth special session for this term will probably still be required — eventually — to tackle the state’s temporary taxes that fall off the books on July 1, 2018.
Whether that means a special session is on tap for this fall, which appears to be favored by legislative leaders, or for next year, when the so-called fiscal cliff will be much closer, now becomes the new focus of speculation around the Capitol.
Unless, of course, lawmakers are unable to agree to a budget in the regular session, which would in turn require an immediate special session convening in mid-June.