Some government watchers marvel at the fact that after seven years of bowing to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s self-serving policies, the Legislature showed some independence. They had to as they faced a $1.6 billion budget hole.
They ignored some of the Republican governor’s pet proposals, such as the so-called “religious freedom” bill, which was defeated in committee, and his steadfast stance against raising taxes.
Perhaps the courage was because the legislators know that Jindal is a lame-duck and won’t be back next year. And it seemed that Jindal did not put up much of a public fight, but the battle is still far from over. He still possesses the veto pen.
His job approval rating with Louisiana voters hovers around 30% and his desire to become the Republican presidential nominee in 2016 is receiving only about 1% support from GOP voters.
Jindal still believes he must be able to say that the state balanced the budget without raising taxes to please Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, and his conservative base. There is still some tedious work to do before the session ends.
The session was indeed a difficult one for legislators in an election year as those who seek re-election will be on the ballot on October 24.
In the desperate process to balance the budget, they have angered many factions, who will have the opportunity to retaliate in October at the ballot box.
In a recent development, as we go to press, some Louisiana lawmakers have asked Norquist what to do with the budget so it will not adversely impact Jindal’s presidential ambitions.
They are concerned that Jindal will veto the budget if it does not adhere to Norquist’s no-tax pledge. The governor is pushing the Legislature to adopt a controversial higher education tax credit called SAVE, which he says will make the budget comply with Norquist’s wishes.
SAVE would set up a new higher education tax credit to cover non-existent student fees, however it would not save families and students on college bills
But several legislators are calling the SAVE proposal a sham. They say it creates the illusion of a tax break, which Jindal can claim as an offset to tax increases.
The reaction has been swift. Some government watchers contend it is a sad state of affairs when the Legislature has to go to Norquist to solve budget problems.
There are those who encourage the Legislature to do what needs to be done. And if the governor vetoes, call for a veto session and override his veto. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as the clocks ticks down toward adjournment.