Governor John Bel Edwards holds press conference after lawmakers end special session

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD)– Governor John Bel Edwards held a press conference immediately after lawmakers special session ended to address the state’s 34 billion dollar budget.

Gov. Edwards said this year’s budget it “workable.”

“Obviously it’s not the budget we envisioned whenever I gave my opening address to the legislature,” Edwards said.

The state’s revenue was hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic. “At that time the economy was doing extremely well Covid-19 had not yet hit Louisiana in any real way and so forth.. and obviously revenue was much better than it is currently,” Edwards said.

Edwards praised access to federal dollars. The CARES Act filled most of a 900 million dollar shortfall.

“I want to thank congress for that and particularly our congressional delegation because it made a tremendous difference,” Edwards said.

The Governor expressed disappointment that pay raises for teachers and state employees are not going to happen this year.

“The legislature didn’t see fit to provide them with a modest raise this year… that the law says they were entitled to.. especially since the funding is available,” Edwards said.

House Bill 70 was approved allowing front line workers to apply for $250 hazard pay checks.

“You can’t put a price tag on how these individuals are working to keep us healthy, keep us safe and so forth,” Edwards said.

Also approved, a task force by Senator Cleo Fields to discuss police practices and race relations.

“I think it’s part of a larger very critical discussion about policing but also race and racial justice and what that should look like going forward,” Edwards said.

The House Appropriations Committee Chairman said he is already looking forward to the comeback of next year.

“Projections are the next fiscal year that the economy will return and that’s part of what we are trying to do,” Rep. Jerome Zeringue said.

But for that to happen he said the people of Louisiana need to get back to work.

“getting the economy back on track so next year we won’t be bridging the gap and we won’t be faced with this deficit,” Zeringue said.

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