BATON ROUGE — Louisiana's Legislature failed to approve a budget for next year after two months of trying, triggering a special session at the taxpayers' expense.
Negotiations between the House and Senate over the $29 billion budget collapsed late Thursday afternoon over a $25 million difference they couldn't resolve.
The stalemate: Senators insisted on spending all of next year's projected revenue, while representatives wanted to hold back some of the money because of repeated revenue shortfalls resulting in midyear cuts.
Each chamber blamed the other for the failure.
"I was hoping to get the Senate to ... negotiate, but at some point we were negotiating against ourselves," Henry said.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte, said House members were "acting like swamp people" and playing "petty politics."
He said the House offered to reduce its preference of carving out more than $200 million to hold back to $75 million.
The Senate approved a resolution to direct agencies to hold back a total of $50 million as its olive branch.
Democrats in the Republican-dominated House began chanting "vote, vote, vote" in the waning minutes on the Senate version, but Speaker Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, said a motion to do so was out of order.
But the clock ran out with no agreement either on the budget bill, House Bill 1, and on the state's construction bill, House Bill 2.
That left the Legislature to called back into a 12-day special session at 6:30 p.m. Thursday night at a cost to taxpayers of about $60,000 per day.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1
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