Last night, the Jindal administration sent out the following as a legislative package update:
Below is a quick recap of the progress Governor Bobby Jindal’s package bills (in the “2011 Legislative Agenda to Keep Louisiana Growing”) made today in the legislative session:
Governor Package Bills Gaining Approval on House Floor Today:
HB 421 by Rep. Carter – Creates a mutually beneficial relationship between Louisiana businesses looking to expand educational options for their employees’ children and charter school operators lacking a location in which to set up a school.
Approved by the LA House of Representatives today.
Governor Package Bills Gaining Approval on Senate Floor Today
SB 144 by Sen. Walsworth – Strengthens the existing review process for dedicated funds by the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget (JLCB) by providing for JLCB recommendations to the Legislature and for the transfer of abolished funds to the state general fund.
Approved by the LA Senate today.
Governor Package Bills Gaining Approval in Committee Today:
HB 415 by Rep. Lopinto – Allows probation and parole officers to administer swift and definite sanctions on offenders under their supervision.
Passed out of House Administration of Criminal Justice today.
HB 584 by Rep. Smiley – Reduces the number of boards and commissions.
Passed out of House and Governmental Affairs today.
HB 526 by Rep. Robideaux – Standardizes community and technical college tuition to ensure equal access to two-year programs in every parish..
Passed out of House Education today.
SB 72 by Rep. Michot – Extends the sunset on the Louisiana Quality Jobs Program from January 1, 2012 to January 1, 2018.
Passed out of Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection and International Affairs today..
While these bills are important for job growth, economizing government and for criminal justice, there was one piece of legislation not included—the earlier decision by Speaker Jim Tucker to abandon the very important, high-profiled and most controversial UNO-SUNO merger that has helped define the Governor's legislative package.
Hours before Jindal’s update, Tucker, who co-authored that legislation, told the Legislative Black Caucus that he would not be pursuing one of the most publically-debated initiatives, the merger. Tucker realized he did not have enough votes to garner the 2/3 majority in the House and Senate which would have been required for the willing Governor’s signature.
After all, not only was Jindal willing to sign this legislation, he essentially hatched it this spring and revealed it to a surprised public. His announcement and later decisions were marked with demonstrations by African American students and faculty. Certainly, they were not the only ones who opposed the idea but any way you cut it, the legislation took on the dressing as being a dreaded white versus black brawl.
Unfortunately for this Governor, the merger bill has not been the only big ticket item in the legislative hopper. There have been other “small potatoes” such as the massive 1.6 (and growing) budget hole that Jindal knew he would be facing many months ago.
In order to prove his conservative stock and because it fits within his core belief system, Jindal has positioned himself as a chief executive who unlike President Bush “The Elder” would absolutely not take any lip on the issue.
However, the only problem now appears to be, the Governor is looking at an awesome financial nut to crack and his other signature pieces of legislation—the selling of government properties are apparently dead in the water.
While Jindal should be confronting his detractors and lobbying long and hard for his still-existing key bills that put his face on this session, another unyielding crisis, the Great Flood of 2011 is diverting some of his daily attention.
Simply put, Governor Bobby Jindal is in the biggest political fight of his still early career. On his right, he has legislators who want to cut, slash, and burn government spending because they believe it is right and because their voters demand it.
From the left, he has others who see spending for education, health care, and certain government services as a necessary role of government for the people’s growth and prosperity.
Sprinkled throughout the political spectrum are those who believe that funding other projects are critical; there is the now threatened economic development fund used to help entice new projects. There are the business exemptions such as those aiding the fledgling movie and digital media industries vital to allow the state to compete in the New Age economy.
While Jindal still has roughly two months to go before the session’s end and before he can go campaign and fundraise, certainly all is not lost. While this legislature is now exercising recent signs of independence in engaging key Jindal legislative items, he still has a Republican majority in both houses so he should be able to pass the bulk of his legislation and frame it as a victory.
There is no doubt, however, that even before the big bad river decided to inundate the flatlands, he had one of the most severe budget crises to ever hit the state. Life is now worse due to the recent seasonal overflow causing the Governor to petition the unpopular Interior Secretary Salazar to help fund certain industries and people displaced by an angry Mother Nature.
Although many believe and are hopeful the levees won’t break during both the river disaster and the approaching hurricane season, since the state yesterday announced an additional $70 million budget canyon, logic and math tell us--something will indeed break.
No doubt, it will be a whole lot less government, some sky-high flying fees and maybe even the pledge not to raise the “T-word”.
Yet, these predicaments which could be his defining moments are just a part of the duties which the Governor has described as, “I’ve got the job I want”.
by Stephen Sabludowsky, Publisher of Bayoubuzz.com