By MELINDA DESLATTE
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Gov. John Bel Edwards says he won't hold firm to the Jan. 19 deadline he set to reach a tax deal with House GOP leaders, if the two sides are making meaningful progress.
At issue are negotiations over closing a $1 billion state budget gap that hits July 1.
In December, the Democratic governor said he needed an "agreement on principle" with House Republican leaders on a tax package by Jan. 19, or he wouldn't call a February special legislative session to boost tax collections.
But as the deadline nears, Edwards hedged Monday, saying if negotiations are advancing, he'd be willing to extend talks.
House Speaker Taylor Barras said he's optimistic the two sides could reach a tax deal for a February session but might need time beyond next week.
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