First day of special session: no votes taken, old arguments rehashed

June 19, 2018 - 2:34 pm

( -- A House committee heard testimony on tax bills during the first full day of the latest special session but took no votes. That frustrated at least one lawmaker, Jackson Representative Kenny Havard, who has authored a bill to renew a portion of the one-cent sales tax that expires June 30.

“Are we going to vote on something tomorrow, or is going to be a big waste of time like today?” Havard asked/

Havard’s legislation would generate $507 million and prevent cuts to college campuses, TOPS, and public safety programs. Some Republicans would prefer to renew less than half of a penny, but Havard says if the state is going to raise taxes after July 1, he’d rather raise enough so no cuts have to be made.

“So we made no one happy and everybody’s got a good case of the reds at us,” he said.

Meanwhile, in House Appropriations, panel members questioned Louisiana Health Department’s budget which Baton Rouge Representative Tony Bacala has grown 56 percent over a 10 year period

“At some point in time, we have to either say we’re going to raise revenue every year or we are going to do some time to control this,” he said.

Many Republicans say the governor’s decision to expand the Medicaid program in 2016 is costing the state too much money. But state Health Secretary Rebekah Gee says Medicaid has led to better health care for the state’s working poor, which is a cost saving.

“They were waiting to cure their disease, and not having their colon cancer diagnosed in time, and waiting until they were bleeding, and it was too late,”  said Gee.

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