In studio with Senator Hewitt: "To me, a cut is when you spend less"
BATON ROUGE, La. (WVLA / WGMB) - Governor John Bel Edwards and legislators continue to look for common ground on how to deal with the proposed budget which features about 600 million dollars in cuts.
But some of the republican leadership have questioned whether those cuts are real. Senator Sharon Hewitt, a Republican from Slidell is one of them.
She sits on the Finance Committee that was presented to the Governor's proposal back in January.
That's when the Senator and the Governor got into a terse exchange. Governor Edwards told Hewitt that he can explain it to her, but that he couldn't understand it for her, to which she responded "That's insulting."
In an interview for This Week in Louisiana Politics Senator Hewitt told Fred Childers some of the issues that prompted her to ask the governor for clarification.
"Deferring things, or not funding something on your wish list and calling that a cut, none of these are actually cuts. What I want when we talk about cuts, is an elimination of a service, a shrinking of government," said Hewitt.
The governor's office defends the proposal, saying everything the Governor listed is, in fact a cut.
Constitutionally revenue- raising measures, or taxes, can only be discussed in a special session during even-numbered years, like 2018.
But Governor Edwards has said he wants to make sure Republicans are on the same page before committing to a special session.
While some republican lawmakers have questioned whether a special session is even needed, a bipartisan group from the senate recently sent Governor Edwards a letter asking him to call a special session for February with or without an agreement in place. Senator Hewitt says she was not a cosigner for that letter.
Republicans want to cut spending, while the Governor wants to replace the penny sales tax that is set to expire in July.
When asked if they'll have a balanced budget at the end of a regular session Senator Hewitt said "I think it's going to be difficult to do that because a majority of the members believe we need to look at expenses first, and revenue last."
Senator Hewitt favors cuts before raising taxes and says if a budget is not balanced at the end of a regular session in March, she would expect a special session to be called afterward to plug any remaining holes in the budget.