jbeyear.122117  008.jpg

Gov. John Bel Edwards gives an end-of-the-year press conference for 2017 Wednesday at the Governor's Mansion. Language interpreter Daniel Burch is at right.

Advocate Staff Photo by PATRICK DENNIS

In his year-end news conference Wednesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards once again held out hope that legislators, particularly the House Republicans who've consistently fought him on budget matters, would agree on a plan to address the so-called "fiscal cliff" in time to settle things in a February special legislative session.

"The options will not be different, and they will not be better, at the end of June than they are now," he said of the need to find enough revenue to avoid deep cuts to higher education and health care before the new fiscal year begins, painful as that's inevitably going to be.

Let me get ahead of the game and make my first prediction for 2018: That they'll put it off anyway.

Edwards gave lawmakers a deadline of Jan. 19 to agree in principle to a plan to replace around $1 billion in temporary sales taxes that are about to drop off the books, and said if that doesn't happen, he won't call a special session for February.

That would kick off what he predicted would be an "ugly three month session" in which a budget is unlikely to be passed, followed by a desperate June special session to come up with a scheme to fully fund government in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Yes, there are some unknowns, including the effect of the tax bill that congressional Republicans just rammed through without time for hearings or full analysis. But the overall shape of things hasn't changed: Facing a huge shortfall, lawmakers in 2016 passed these temporary taxes so that they'd be forced to come up with a better, permanent plan in the 2017 fiscal session.

They missed that deadline. New year or not, there's no real reason to believe they won't miss Edwards' latest one too.

Follow Stephanie Grace on Twitter, @stephgracela.