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The count: 2017's estimated midyear state budget shortfall

$304 million



Source: Gov. John Bel Edwards' office.

The state Legislature is expected to go into special session this week to deal with the latest crisis to hit Louisiana coffers — a midyear budget deficit of more than $300 million. The special session, called by Gov. John Bel Edwards, is set to begin Feb. 13 and wrap Feb. 22, just before Carnival weekend. Edwards wants to tap the state's "rainy day fund," but some state leges are leery. State Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, produced a plan last month that would leave the rainy day fund intact, while slashing the state Department of Health budget by nearly $150 million.

  "It's an understatement to say there just aren't any painless options left for us," Edwards said at the Jan. 27 joint legislative Committee on the Budget. Sam Karlin of Manship School News Service quoted Edwards as saying, "It's storming. ... The idea that under these circumstances we wouldn't use the rainy day fund for its express purpose doesn't make any sense to me."

  Edwards has said he wants to protect K-12 education and the Department of Children and Family Services from cuts, among other departments.

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