House Republicans are urging Gov. John Bel Edwards to allow the Legislature to again take up previously rejected spending cap and program auditing legislation in the upcoming special session.
"We agree in the necessity of funding our essential priorities. We also believe that it is necessary to enact transparent budgeting and spending policies and reduce the size of state government," House GOP Chair Lance Harris, of Alexandria, wrote in a letter hand-delivered to Edwards on Thursday. "We sincerely hope that you will consider supporting and including the following bipartisan solutions in your call. To ask for taxes without reform could very well yield a similar result to previous attempts at the same."
Both proposals in the letter have failed to win passage at the Capitol in previous sessions.
The Legislature is expected to return for its third special session in four months the week of June 18.
As lawmakers look to close a nearly billion-dollar budget gap during the ongoing special session, House Republicans are pushing to restrict wh…
Edwards, a Democrat, has previously expressed his desire that the session be short and limited in scope to addressing the $650 million fiscal cliff the state faces when temporary tax measures expire June 30. The next state budget takes effect July 1.
Edwards gets to set the agenda for special sessions through items he places in his proclamation calling the session.
The Republican Delegation's letter asks that Edwards let lawmakers take up a Republican-backed change in the way the state calculates how much money the state has to spend. The spending cap proposal, which would require a Constitutional amendment, would link how much money the state can spend in a given year to factor in shifts in population, the regional consumer price index and state personal income levels. It would also restrict state government spending to 6 percent growth each year. It would not affect federal funding nor self-generated funds that agencies bring in through various fees and charges.
Separately, House Republicans also asked Edwards to let lawmakers consider legislation that would "give the legislative auditor the authority to audit the records of any state agency for the purpose of auditing programs that expend taxpayer funds and ensuring legal compliance." It appears to be linked to a push among some Republicans to give the auditor access to Medicaid patients' tax records.
Some House Republicans have argued that the auditor should have access to Medicaid patients' tax records to ensure that people aren't illegally enrolled in the program.
Critics have argued that it would be an improper use of private tax information and put data at risk.
More than 469,000 people have enrolled in Medicaid since the state expanded the health care program for the poor in July 2016. The expansion, an optional part of the federal Affordable Care Act, made Medicaid available to adults whose income is below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, about $34,000 annually for a family of four or $16,600 for a single person.