Look ahead: Local lawmakers gearing up for 3rd special session

VIDEO: Look ahead: Local lawmakers gearing up for 3rd special session

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - As the Southwest delegation gets ready to head back to Baton Rouge, many are wondering what's going to happen to programs like TOPS and SNAP.

The current budget legislators are working with puts TOPS, higher education and the SNAP Program, among others, on the chopping block.

Depending on how this budget works out, students like Emily Pinney would have to rely on other sources in order to pay for college.

"We need tops a lot, so it will help us get into a college that we love and do what we love for a living, It's a big deal for those that don't come from higher income families, it really is."

However, party lines are drawn when it comes to the budget.

House Republican leaders backed extending one-third of the expiring 1 percent sales tax and temporarily suspending some sales tax breaks. Under their proposal, the state sales tax rate would go from 5 percent to 4.33 percent on July 1. The Senate, with support from Edwards, advanced a proposal to keep one-half of the expiring tax hike, setting the new state sales tax rate at 4.5 percent.

Both proposals ultimately were rejected in the House in the final moments of the special session.

Local state representatives,  Mark Abraham and A.B. Franklin are both in favor to keep a portion of the extra sales tax.

"They take their party lines and they dig their heels in the sand and they will not come together for the betterment of all the citizens. They just stand for what their party believes and that's what I did not expect when I went to the legislature in Baton Rouge." Abraham said.

Franklin said, "If we're going to go for the point 5, that going to take care of everything that we need, if we go less than that and they say they're going to do some cutting, cut what, cut where..it's time for us to stop kicking the can down the road."

According to Dr. Daryl Burckel, with a cut to higher education, McNeese could lose millions of dollars in appropriated funds.

If the current budget passes, that represents a 3 million dollar cut, we only receive 16 million dollars from the state so we would lose 3 million dollars of our appropriation..also our TOPS students would lose 30 percent of their funding that means a student coming to McNeese would have to spend out of pocket an additional $1,500.

Abraham says their mission is to provide that necessary funding.

Governor John Bel Edwards said in a statement, "A clear majority in the Legislature wants to put our state's budget challenges behind us, but were blocked in the last special session, we have one more opportunity to get this right for the people of Louisiana."

Lawmakers have 10 days to come up with a decision before the new fiscal year begins, July 1st.

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