This remains the ultimate question as the Louisiana legislative session winds down with it ending on Thursday.
On Monday, according to Greg Hilburn of the Monroe News-Star, it appeared that solution had been found that would avert a veto collision. However, that moment of optimism vanished quickly as things surprisingly began to fall apart in the House of Representatives.
Hilburn, who covers the legislative session for the Monroe paper wrote an article Monday afternoon summarizing events. Shortly afterwards, he and Bayoubuzz publisher Stephen Sabludowsky engaged in a discussion regarding that article and the session’s future.
Below is a transcript of that discussion interview and a video of the recorded telephone conversation:
SABLUDOWSKY: Good evening Greg and how are you? What's going on up there in Baton Rouge? I know you've been busy.
GREG HILBURN: Well it was a busy day today and there were some stunning developments. Early this morning the Senate passed out the three-- House Bill one which is the state budget as you know, house built to which is the construction budget and bill three which is some of the finance mechanisms for those money bills and they just sailed out of their relatively quickly, right around lunch time they were all gone. It looks like the house might have come up with the way both to have finished the bills off by approving a convoluted offset, as you know the governor says he plans to veto any tax measure whether that be a tax credit, a new tax or a tax credit reduction unless it is offset with other credits.
GREG HILBURN: And of course the infamous save bill, which you're all familiar with, was the method each they plan to do that. So the Senate had already pass the save bill even the supporters say is a sham, a mirage
GREG HILBURN: Because no money is ever taken nor money ever spent. There's a tax credit that would report $350 million tax credit would help offset some of the revenue raised, to try to balance the budget.
GREG HILBURN: It's Kind of convoluted but I did not know if you want me to get there right away or not the Senate reports this save legislation and passed already the house was less inclined to do so, in fact it failed out of committee last week, 10 to 9.
GREG HILBURN: But there was a group of representatives today that were going to bring the save build back up again through an amendment, this is more sausage being made in the legislature, through an amendment and trigger it, it wouldn't trigger unless there were some capital outlay reform legislation passed.
GREG HILBURN: They think this group certainly had votes to pass it. It would be put on, well okay I know this is confusing to you, it would ultimately be put on house bill to the capital outlay budget and conference, so, representative Seabaugh is caring the bill from the floor, answering the questions as they do about the amendment and one of the (inaudible) Jay Morris, a Republican from Monroe Louisiana, all of a sudden come up to Seabaugh and says Seabaugh I'm going to speak against my amendment, my bill
SABLUDOWSKY: That must've been a real surprise
GREG HILBURN: So Seabaugh said I want to withdraw of the amendment. He had already been taken the heat from those opposed, really intense heat from those opposed to the Save bill or the save method and so it was removed. So to lead up to this when they thought they had the votes, everybody thought, well this is it, the budget is done. This would avoid a gubernatorial veto
GREG HILBURN: We don't have to go to a veto session, there were some other things to work out but, this was it. They thought this afternoon would be clear sailing until Thursday sine die.
SABLUDOWSKY: While that is amazing, and at the same time last night, and I found out about it this morning, when I woke up, 11 Republicans had wrote that letter to the Americans for tax Reform
GREG HILBURN: Right Grover Norquist
SABLUDOWSKY: Yeah, I thought it was a terrific letter because basically it explained the problem that we're having down here and asked Norquist hey what do we do
GREG HILBURN: Exactly. I don't know if you've seen the reply
SABLUDOWSKY: No I did not see that
GREG HILBURN: He did reply and basically said yeah this would count but there other ways, we think better ways to do it by other tax reductions and things like that but he did reply to this group led by Robideaux, representative Joal Robideaux who is the chairman of the Ways and Means which is of course you know the tax committee in the house. So he did reply and it all kind of went bad in hurry so after this amendment was pulled unexpectedly Robideaux said “well, looks like a veto override is more and more likely, it's a game of chicken now”, and representative Seabaugh said “well looks like education is going to take a real hit”, it really fooled most of the members in the house for a loop. One of the senators who were in their thinking they were going to watch it pass so it was kind of a wild afternoon after it looked like he was going to be a smooth day
SABLUDOWSKY: Sure sure so there were 85 to my last count, 85 members of the house who were basically in favor of the safe account and were on record that they were willing to go in for a veto override should the governor override the budget, so, are they now satisfied with what Norquist is saying or are they..
GREG HILBURN: They didn't like the save, they don't, nobody it. It's a scam, it doesn't make... But there were willing, there were enough willing to go along with it after it was tied in with some capital outlay reform, diminish the power of the governor slightly, not much but slightly, to make it more transparent, they think. And they were willing to do that until it all went bad. But now, of course it can all, the thing about it is none of the might matter because once a go to conference they can put the save on it again, so who knows the knows what's going to happen still, right now they're in a quandary. Back to square one in the house
SABLUDOWSKY: But it seems to me from what you're saying, it seems to me representatives are saying well we're willing to put save aside and that seemed to be the major obstacle, it was a principled obstacle rather, say, a financial one, if I'm reading this correctly
GREG HILBURN: I think that's right and the house is willing, the house is willing as far as I can tell, the house is willing to go into a veto override session. The Senate I don't believe is, so if that happens, it doesn't matter, the house can't do it by itself and we go right back to the government Jindal, the vetoes, all these measures, right back to where we started, a budget with really devastating cuts, especially to higher Ed and healthcare. So I don't know where it stands, I'm sure it will work out like it always does but right now it's in chaos like they say
GREG HILBURN: Well, that is surprising, likewise, I think it's surprising that the members of the house were willing to accept a response from Norquist and they didn't like it, so that gives me maybe reason to believe to be able to, since is not as principled or so it seems to me, so maybe there is a chance during conference that they're able to come together. I think that's probably likely
SABLUDOWSKY: And one other question I have is this--if the governor were to veto, assuming they're not able to get together, the governor does veto, you have a situation where, the Senate has one of two choices, one of three choices actually as I see it--one is to just let the budget knife fall, which is the worst of the situations, second would be to override and third would be to call themselves or have a governor call into special session, so two of them are sessions--one is not
GREG HILBURN: I can assure you that they do not want to go into special session, there will to do a veto override but not, nobody wants to go into a full-blown special session and create a brand-new budget
SABLUDOWSKY: Sure because that means that got to pass it by three fourths, rather than two thirds
GREG HILBURN: That's exactly, that's a great point, you're right on target, that's exactly right
SABLUDOWSKY: Thank you
GREG HILBURN: that's exactly right well, there's no way, you had to right on the head--they want none of that happen
SABLUDOWSKY: Well as can be interesting, keep us posted and keep your terrific writing and I really appreciate your taking the time after really such a hard, long day, will be watching over the Internet
GREG HILBURN: I Appreciate your interest, the so many people enjoy your work and so I'm proud to be included today
SABLUDOWSKY: Well thank you so much really, take care yourself, I appreciate that thank you
GREG HILBURN: Thank you Steve