By MELINDA DESLATTE
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana's looming mid-2018 budget gap is projected to be $1.5 billion.
That's the official price tag presented to lawmakers Friday, the first update on the so-called "fiscal cliff" since the legislative sessions ended in June.
Most of the shortfall projected for the budget year that begins July 1, 2018, is tied to expiration of $1.1 billion in temporary sales taxes enacted by lawmakers last year.
The rest of the hole accounts for rising costs expected for prisoner housing, elections, the Medicaid program, K-12 public schools and inflationary expenses.
Several Republican lawmakers pushed back against the estimate, saying the figure skewed too high by including certain inflationary measures that lawmakers don't fund.
Lawmakers and Gov. John Bel Edwards have been unable to agree so far on how to close the gap.
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