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Archive for the ‘Veto’ Category

Sen. Bob Kostelka, R-Monroe, wants people to know he’s serious.

He has already pre-filed SB 41, which calls for a constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot which, if approved, would make the state superintendent of education and elective position as opposed to the current appointive one.

Kostelka also wants it understood that he wants current Superintendent John White to go.

He says he has seen enough of bloated contracts granted to politically-connected firms. He has seen his fill of contracts like the one that teaches kids how to play at recess. He has heard quite enough about contracts awarded to PR hacks to work out of their homes in other states for outlandish figures like $12,000 per month.

Most of all though he has grown weary of trying to obtain information and records from the secretive Louisiana Department of Education—and repeatedly encountering a brick wall of resistance.

And he is more than a little concerned about the approval of vouchers for schools which have no classrooms, no teachers and no desks—like New Living Word in Ruston.

And while he didn’t say so, he seemed to take some bit of pleasure in knowing that his bill has come under fire from Gov. Bobby Jindal’s chief apologist, Jeff Sadow.

Kostelka claim that the bill would make the superintendent answerable to the people instead of a rubber-stamp Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) was described by Sadow as a “curious mix of ignorance and illogic.”

Sadow chose to fall back on the argument that most of the BESE members are already elected and “answerable to the people,” apparently choosing to ignore the fact that most of the elected members’ seats were bought by out of state contributions from such people as Michael Bloomberg, Bill Gates, the Walton family and K-12.

Sadow also says Kostelka seems to have forgotten the “policy-making mess” that existed under the elected superintendent structure that existed prior to 1988. In saying that, Sadow appears to be overlooking the ever-evolving “policy-making mess” that is indicative of today’s DOE under a superintendent who doesn’t seem to have a clue where he intends to go or what he intends to do when he gets there.

“People like Mr. Sadow say I want to return to old-time politics,” Kostelka said. “To that, I would have them look at the political contributions to the BESE members and then explain to me what has changed under the present system.”

“They say my bill would cost the state the expense of another election, but it wouldn’t. I’m calling for the election to be held in the fall of 2014 at the same time as the Congressional elections, so there would be no additional costs. If approved, the elected superintendent would take effect with the 2015 gubernatorial election and White could leave with Jindal,” he said.

Kostelka is well aware that he has run afoul of the petulant Jindal and is certain to incur the governor’s wrath. His punishment could range from a loss of committee assignments to vetoes of key projects in Kostelka’s senate district. All one has to do is harken back to last year’s session when Jindal vetoed a major construction project in Livingston Parish after Rep. Rogers Pope and Sen. Dale Erdy had the temerity to buck Jindal on legislative matters important to the governor.

If that isn’t old-time politics, we don’t know what is.

But Jindal has proved beyond any doubt that he is not above such tactics.

But, at long last, those tactics appear to be coming back to bit him in the backside.

He has demoted legislators, fired a BESE member, an LSU president, doctors, various department and agency heads, appointed legislator buddies (Noble Ellington, Troy Hebert, et al) to six-figure deadhead jobs and in at least one case—that of Hebert—that appointment appears to be a major embarrassment to the administration.

But even after all of that, nothing compares to the damage done to his political stock as the recent dust-up with the Board of Regents.

Send in the clowns

As is his M.O., Jindal attempted to distance himself from the action—perhaps as a means of attempting to maintain deniability, a ploy that has consistently served him badly—by dispatching an emissary to do his dirty work. In this case, it was Taylor Teepell, brother of Timmy Teepell who seems to be running his OnMessage political consulting operation from the governor’s fourth-floor offices in the State Capitol.

What was Taylor’s mission? Nothing less than to demand the firing of Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. James Purcell. Purcell, you see, committed the unpardonable sin of criticizing Jindal’s repeated cuts to higher education. There is no run for dissention on Team Jindal.

But Taylor Teepell got a major surprise. Regents Chairman W. Clinton “Bubba” Rasberry, Jr. sent Teepell back to Jindal with a message: “Dr. Purcell works for the Regents.”

Whoa. Herr Jindal is not accustomed to such spunk from his subordinates. The governor does, after all, appoint the Regents members and he expects all appointees to toe the line, not draw a line in the sand.

Of course, Jindal could fire the entire board and replace the recalcitrant members with more compliant sycophants. But his brazen attempt to oust Purcell for the sin of independent thinking probably did more harm to Jindal than anything else he has done in his five-plus years in office. This attempt, coming as it did on the heels of three major court reversals of his education and retirement reforms and the word last week of a federal investigation into a contract with the Department of Health and Human Resources, has left him politically crippled.

And his blatant, quixotic pursuit of the presidency would be laughable were it not such a pathetic sight to behold. It somehow makes him look even smaller, more the little boy, in his ill-fitting suits.

Seeing his presidential aspirations slip away raises yet another spectacle that he would probably rather no one would know about. When he encountered occasional crises during his tenure as head of the University of Louisiana System, rather than facing the problems head-on, his solution of choice was to retreat to his office where he is said to have played video games virtually non-stop.

One must be wondering what video games he prefers these days. League of Legends, perhaps?

As one observer recently said, the Jindal waters appear to be circling the drain.

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LouisianaVoice will soon have a sister publication in the form of an online state newspaper, according to publisher Tom Aswell.

The new feature, which will be published online in newspaper format, will be a weekly publication geared exclusively to Louisiana political news.

“This will be a free-subscription publication because we want everyone in Louisiana—and elsewhere—to have access to what elected and appointed officials are doing that affect the daily lives of Louisiana’s citizens,” Aswell said.

The name of the new publication will be Louisiana Free Press and will be accessible via the link http://www.louisianafreepress.com, Aswell said.

Louisiana Free Press will be supported 100 percent by advertising revenue and our coverage will be broadened from publishing a single story at a time. There will be multiple stories posted each Friday and the coverage will vary greatly.

Several writers will be contributing coverage of many more agencies than have historically been covered by LouisianaVoice.

These writers will be covering the Louisiana Supreme Court proceedings, Louisiana Attorney General opinions, audit reports of all state and local agencies as they are provided by the Legislative Auditor’s office. Moreover, coverage of agencies will be increased—agencies like the Department of Health and Hospitals, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the Department of Education, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Board of Regents, University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors and the Public Service Commission, the governor’s office, the lieutenant governor, state treasurer and the legislature, as well as other more obscure state boards and commissions.

“We feel it is important that Louisiana’s citizenry remain informed about what their public officials are doing in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and elsewhere,” Aswell said.

“This is an ambitious endeavor but for too long, too many agencies, board and commissions have operated under the radar of the media,” Aswell said. “We anticipate that is about to change.

“That is not to say that everything we write will be of an investigative nature or that each story will be some major exposé. Most will be of a routine nature but will provide news otherwise not available to the public.”

LouisianaVoice will issue further updates as the schedule for launching Louisiana Free Press develops.

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But I see your true colors
Shining through;
I see your true colors…

—True Colors
(Lyrics by Billy Steinberg, Tom Kelly)

Whether you prefer the Cyndi Lauper or Phil Collins version, nothing more aptly—or more shamelessly—describes the sinister motives of Gov. Piyush Jindal in vetoing four legislative bills than the first three lines of this song.

It seems rather curious that Jindal, such an avowed advocate of openness, would veto SB 629 by Sen. Ronnie Johns (R-Lake Charles) that would have required increased accountability from the state’s Bayou Health and Behavioral Health Partnership programs.

Of course, it might be more easily understood when we learn that Bayou Health contributed $10,000 to Jindal’s gubernatorial campaigns – $5,000 in 2003 and another $5,000 in 2009.

It would also appear rather disingenuous for the governor to veto a bill calling for the convening of a task force to study wage disparities between men and women in the public sector.

But it is simply unconscionable for a governor who purports to support transparency and accountability to veto HB 1104 that would have done just that.

It likewise is two-faced, duplicitous and smacks of a blatant double standard for Jindal to veto HB 1106. The bill, after all, provided for tax rebates, something we thought equated to an economic Holy Grail in the eyes of this governor.

But I see your true colors
Shining through;
I see your true colors…

Both HB 1104 and HB 1106 were authored by State Rep. Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe).

Both bills, by themselves, did far more for transparency, accountability and even-handedness than everything Jindal has done in his entire four-plus years in office.

Both bills were passed unanimously by the House, both by votes of 96-0 with nine absences.

Not voting on HB 1104 were Speaker Chuck Kleckley (R-Lake Charles), Jerry Gisclair (D-Larose), Hunter Greene (R-Baton Rouge), Bob Hensgens (R-Abbeville), Bernard LeBas (D-Ville Platte), Joseph Lopinto, III (R-Metairie), Harold Ritchie (D-Bogalusa), Joel Robideaux (R-Lafayette) and Patricia Smith (D-Baton Rouge).

Those absent for the vote on HB 1106 were Jared Brossett (D-New Orleans), Gordon Dove (R-Houma), Brett Geymann (R-Lake Charles), Gisclair, James Morris (R-Oil City), Kevin Pearson (R-Slidell), John Schroder (R-Covington), Scott Simon (R-Abita Springs) and Kirk Talbot (R-River Ridge).

HB 1104 also passed unanimously in the Senate (35-0 with four absentees) and only four senators voted against HB 1106. Absent on the HB 1104 vote were Sens. Jack Donahue (R-Mandeville), Jean-Paul Morrell (D-New Orleans), Ben Nevers (D-Bogalusa) and Mike Walsworth (R-West Monroe).

Voting against HB 1106 in the Senate were Robert Adley (R-Benton), Conrad Appel (R-Metairie), Dan Claitor (R-Baton Rouge) and Donahue. Absent were Jody Amedee (R-Gonzales) and Barrow Peacock (R-Bossier City).

All four were good bills.

All four were vetoed by Piyush “I have the job I want” Jindal.

But I see your true colors
Shining through;
I see your true colors…

HB 1104 would have required that state agencies which administer tax credits, exemptions and rebates to report certain information needed by the Legislative Auditor’s Office in determining whether each tax credit, exemption or rebate was “effectuating the purpose they were enacted to achieve.”

“More than half of Louisiana’s (annual) revenue is expended to pay for these credits, rebates and exemption,” Jackson said after being informed of the vetoes. “It is important that we review them to determine whether the state is truly benefitting.”

Louisiana has granted more than $18 billion in corporate tax exemptions over the past four years, according to information obtained from state records. Jackson said she is attempting to ensure that the state is getting its money’s worth in jobs and economic development.

Jindal disagreed.

But I see your true colors
Shining through;
I see your true colors…

HB 1106 would have allowed taxpayers who donate to public schools to receive tax rebates.

“This bill supports public schools and has a $10 million statewide cap,” Jackson said of her bill.

After being amended in committee, the bill would have offered the following tax rebates for those who donated to public schools for the purpose of tutorial, curriculum, books, technology, Saturday school, etc.:

• 25 percent tax rebate for donations to a “C” school;

• 50 percent tax rebate for donations to a “D” school;

• 75 percent tax rebate for donations to an “F” school.

“The only bill that sits on the governor’s desk which truly helps our public schools to receive much-needed resources will not see the light of day,” Jackson said. “This is truly a blow to public education.”

The veto obviously discourages donations to public schools in favor of their non-public counterparts and comes on top of requirements that local school superintendents now must answer directly to Baton Rouge instead of their local school boards that hired them. It also is the equivalent to piling on in that local school funds under the state’s Minimum Foundation Program, a formula used to provide state funding to local school systems, can be diverted to benefit students transferring to charter schools—even if the charter schools are in another parish.

So, not only does Jindal’s American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-inspired educational reform legislation dilute local financial support of public schools, any attempt by individuals or corporations to assist struggling public schools is now officially discouraged by this administration.

One reader wrote of HB 1106: “If anyone ever questioned that Gov. Jindal is placing non-public schools over public schools, and treating them inequitably, his punitive legislation during the session, followed by this veto, is the final straw.

“According to Jindal, rebates to non-public schools are o.k. as passed by the legislature but rebates to public schools are vetoed ‘because there’s no provision in state budget for rebates.’”

Apparently, however, when it comes to non-public schools, there is a provision in the state budget for rebates.

“Shame on our governor for such a petty, discriminatory, embarrassing action,” the reader wrote.

It remains to be seen if the legislature has the courage to override the vetoes of Jackson’s bills.

If history is any indication, it won’t happen. One need look no further back than 2011 when the legislature approved a renewal of the cigarette tax only to have Jindal veto it because he was opposed to “new” taxes. While it is still a mystery how he could consider a tax renewal as a “new” tax, the legislature cratered, folded like a cheap suit, in its attempt to override Piyush’s veto.

But I see your true colors
Shining through;
I see your true colors…

Senate Bill 577 by Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) would have established the Louisiana Equal Pay Task Force to study and make recommendations relating to equal pay for women in the public sector in Louisiana.

It, too, passed unanimously in the Senate with only six absences—Appel, Norby Chabert (R-Houma), Peacock, Jonathan Perry (R-Kaplan), Greg Tarver (D-Shreveport) and Walsworth.

SB 577 passed in the House by a 71-17 vote.

The 17 voting against the measure in the House, all Republicans, included Reps. Stuart Bishop (R-Lafayette), Richard Burford (R-Stonewall), Raymond Garofalo, Jr. (R-Chalmette), Geymann, Greene, Kenneth Havard (R-Jackson), Lowell Hazel (R-Pineville), Cameron Henry (R-Metairie), Hensgens, Anthony Ligi, Jr. (R-Metairie), Lopinto, Nick Lorusso (R-New Orleans), John Morris (R-Monroe), James Morris, Steve Pylant (R-Winnsboro), Alan Seabaugh (R-Shreveport), and Talbot.

Which begs the question of why any female voter could, in good conscience, ever support Piyush Jindal or any of the Misogynistic Seventeen for even the most menial public office.

But I see your true colors
Shining through;
I see your true colors…

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The state’s 2012 Capital Outlay Bill (House Bill 2) contains more than $1.5 billion in priority 1 projects and another $1.2 billion in priorities 2 and 5 projects.

The bill, which was approved by the full House on May 17, was heard by the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee on Monday, May 28, and now goes to the full Senate for debate. If the Senate version finally passed is different from the House version, the bill will go to a conference committee to hammer out a compromise and still must be approved by both chambers.

After final passage by both chambers, the bill will go to Gov. Bobby Jindal who, by line item veto, may eliminate projects he deems wasteful or which may obtain funding elsewhere.

At a time when the state is grappling with revenue shortfalls and budget deficits, this year’s construction bill is packed with more than more than $180 million in priority 1 local spending projects such as festivals, ball parks, sports complexes, community centers, professional sports facilities, groundwater reservoirs and golf courses.

Some of those include:

• $17.5 million for professional sports facilities in Jefferson and Orleans parishes;

• $1.17 million for New Orleans Zephyrs baseball facilities repair;

• $21.5 million for the New Orleans Sports Arena improvements;

• $17.2 million for an economic development award program for infrastructure assistance;

• $7.74 million for wet-lab business incubators statewide;

• $20 million for aerospace manufacturing infrastructure in New Orleans;

• $10 million for mega-project site preparation statewide;

• $4.6 million for renovations to the River Center Arena and Theatre in Baton Rouge;

• $1.4 million for baseball stadium improvements in Baton Rouge;

• $2 million for construction of a community center in north Iberville Parish;

• $6.7 million for improvements to the Bayou Segnette sports complex in Jefferson Parish;

• $8.6 million for land acquisition and additional cabins for Bayou Segnette State Park;

• $13 million for Bayou Segnette Festival Park land acquisition and construction;

• $600,000 for construction in raw undeveloped area of Parc de Families in Jefferson parish;

• $8.5 million for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Natchitoches State Museum;

• $6.6 million for improvements to New Orleans City Park golf course;

• $2 million for improvements to amusement area at New Orleans City Park;

• $2.4 million for Bayou Dechene Reservoir in Caldwell Parish;

• $1.7 million for real estate acquisition and improvements to Poverty Point Reservoir;

• $2.6 million for Washington Parish Reservoir study, planning and construction;

• $950,000 for repair and renovation of the Strand Theatre in Shreveport;

• $400,000 for a multipurpose evacuation shelter and community center in Avoyelles Parish;

• $4.2 million for a golf course development in Calcasieu Parish;

• $635,000 for the Woodmere Community Center in Jefferson Parish;

• $2 million for a governmental complex and jail upgrade in Lafayette Parish;

• $2.3 million for a multipurpose community center in Bienville Parish;

• $1 million for a fire station and public service center in St. Mary Parish;

• $1.6 million for a cultural center for the arts in Jefferson Parish;

• $250,000 for a Maurice civic center-post hurricane shelter in Vermilion Parish;

• $400,000 for Rosenwald Community Center in Orleans Parish;

• $200,000 for renovations to the Dansereau Harris Playground in Orleans Parish;

• $1 million for improvements to park land in Jefferson Parish;

• $215,000 for a Winnsboro community center in Franklin Parish;

• $4 million for Phase 2 construction of the West Calcasieu Community Center;

• $2.85 million for a public safety complex for the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office in Ruston;

That comes to a little more than $182.4 million – and that’s just a small sampling of the $1.5 billion in projects included in the bill.

The bill passed the House by an 84-15 vote with 6 members absent.

Those voting against the bill were Reps. Richard Burford (R-Stonewall), Thomas Carmody (R-Shreveport), Simone Champagne (R-Erath), Brett Geymann (R-Lake Charles), Lance Harris (R-Alexandria), Bob Hensgens (R-Abbeville), Nancy Landry (R-Lafayette), Anthony Ligi (R-Metairie), Sherman Mack (R-Livingston), Jim Morris (R-Oil City), Steve Pylant (R-Winnsboro), John Schroder (R-Covington), Alan Seabaugh (R-Shreveport), Jeff Thompson (R-Bossier City) and Lenar Whitney (R-Houma).

Absent and not voting were Reps. Neil Abramson (D-New Orleans), Regina Barrow (D-Baton Rouge), Raymond Garofalo (R-Chalmette), Joe Harrison (R-Gray), Girod Jackson (D-Harvey) and Jerome Richard (I-Thibodaux).

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George Orwell, writing in Chapter 10 of his literary classic Animal Farm, said, “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.”

Never was that well-worn quote more obvious than when, on July 1, 2011, Gov. Bobby Jindal cast aside the civics class principal of the three equal branches of government by exercising his veto power over legislative oversight of one of his pet projects—privatization.

The vote was 36-0 in the Senate and 100-0 in the House but Jindal still pulled rank on the Louisiana Legislature and vetoed SB-207 by Sen. Willie Mount (D-Lake Charles), as well as three provisions of HB-1 that would have given the legislature some say into the governor’s privatization of the state’s Medicaid program.

The vetoes left no doubt as to the determination of the governor to move forward with his sweeping privatization of several state government programs even though one report said that the proposed privatization of the Office of Group Benefits it dead—at least for this year.

Jindal has already privatized one agency a year ago, the Office of Risk Management, but failed in his efforts to sell three state prisons earlier this year.

He was less than specific in giving his reasons for the vetoes, saying only that the three provisions that he stripped from HB-1would delay implementation of one program while eliminating the flexibility of the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) to initiate changes in two other.

In one case, he said that legislative involvement could delay implementation of a program that provides care for youth who have behavioral health problems that put them at risk of being institutionalized.

Language in HB-1 would have required DHH to submit a report providing details of the programs structure, service delivery provisions, population served, and estimated costs for budget committee review at least 30 days prior to awarding a contract.

The administration is presently evaluating a dozen private companies that have submitted proposals to establish networks of health-care providers, including physicians and hospitals with which Medicaid recipients would enroll in an effort to cut costs and better coordinate health care. Ten of those companies are insurance companies.

Jindal’s “coordinated care networks” would use state revenue to pay private insurance companies and other private entities to provide the medical needs for two-thirds of the state’s 1.2 million Medicaid recipients.

Mount, chairperson of the Senate Health Committee, said she was disappointed in the governor’s veto.

“This (Jindal’s privatization) is a significant change in the way we are offering health care,” she said, adding that the legislature should be an “active and engaged” partner to ensure that health care outcomes are both improved and cost-effective.

Jindal also cited “contingencies” in vetoing the proposals but legislators earlier this year complained that Jindal himself included “contingencies,” in his original budget proposal, including the proposed sale of three state prisons that would have required legislative approval before the funds could be appropriated.

Rep. Eddie Lambert (R-Prairieville) said Jindal apparently had a different perspective on contingencies when considering vetoes as opposed to drafting his budget.

“I’m somewhat surprised he would veto those things because the more oversight you have in government, the better taxpayer interests are going to be served,” said Lambert, vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

“The governor is not too keen on legislative oversight,” said Sen. Lydia Jackson (D-Shreveport), who said she has long been a proponent of the idea that the Legislature should exercise more independence in budgeting. She is vice chairperson of the Senate Finance Committee. “Maybe these vetoes will be the kick in the pants for us to exert ourselves a little more,” she said.

Not only did SB-207 receive unanimous support in both the Senate and House, it also was endorsed by the Louisiana Hospital Association, the Louisiana State Medical society, and the New Orleans Metropolitan Hospital Council.

Jindal, in his veto message, said Mount’s bill “terminates Louisiana’s Medicaid reform initiative, Coordinated Care Networks, as well as the Community Care Program on Dec. 31, 2014.

“Coordinated Care Networks will provide a medical home for 800,000 Medicaid recipients, providing better access to primary and preventative care, improved health outcomes, with an anticipated savings of $24 million in the upcoming fiscal year and $135.9 million in state fiscal year 2013.

“Inserting a termination date for this important reform and preventing Louisiana from improving the performance of outcomes in our current Medicaid system sends the wrong message, that we are incapable of providing better care to our people, and we can do no better than our ranking of 49th in the nation for health outcomes. I am not content with the outcomes of our current Medicaid program and am committed to reforming our Louisiana health care system.”

Now that’s making a case for being more equal than others.

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BATON ROUGE (CNS)—Among the 16 bills vetoed by Gov. Bobby Jindal thus far was one that must have raised a few eyebrows, especially with four members of the Louisiana House of Representatives.

HB-533 by Rep. Richard Gallot (D-Ruston) would have made various, mostly cosmetic changes to the election code, including one that Jindal said he found “problematic.”

“House Bill No. 533, provides that a candidate who is neither a Republican nor a Democrat and who does not belong to any other unrecognized party shall be listed as ‘Independent’ on an election ballot,” Jindal wrote in his veto message.

Gallot said some Republicans are fearful of right-wing conservatives campaigning as being “more conservative than they are” and that many unaffiliated voters and candidates believe it unfair that they can only be called “No Party.”

“Nonaffiliated voters are the fastest-growing segment of registered voters,” Gallot said. To ignore the fact that some people are fed up with all the parties is doing them a disservice,” he said.

Three members of the House are listed on the state legislative web page as Independents: Jerome Richard of Thibodaux, Joel C. Robideaux of Lafayette, and Ernest Wooten of Belle Chasse. Additionally, Rep. Michael Jackson of Baton Rouge now may have to change his plans to change his registration from Democrat to Independent.

Jindal said in his veto message that state law stipulates that candidates who do not belong to any unrecognized party shall be listed as “No Party.”

He said that state statute says, in part, “No political party shall be recognized in this state which declares its name solely to be ‘Independent’ or ‘The Independent Party.’”

Therefore, the governor said, that provision in Gallot’s bill was “in conflict with current law.”

That may leave some voters wondering what the law says about a candidate choosing his first name from a network television sitcom and running for governor under that nom de plume.

Piyush Jindal selected his Americanized first name of Bobby from the television show The Brady Bunch and has run for office under that alias–twice for Congress and twice for governor, winning all but his first run for governor.

If he were to apply the same logic to his own candidacy as he did to Gallot’s bill, then shouldn’t he run as Piyush and not Bobby?

Equally curious and more than a little inconsistent was Jindal’s veto of SB-21 by Sen. Neil Riser (R-Columbia) that would have exempted from state sales taxes water, mineral water, carbonated water and flavored water sold in containers.

Jindal said the exemption would result in state revenue losses of $8.3 million in the upcoming fiscal year and a total state revenue loss of $52.7 million over the next five years.

“I am concerned this could cause our budget for the upcoming year to be out of balance,” he said. “It is important that we protect scarce resources for priorities like healthcare and higher education.”

The veto of a tax break is unusual enough, given Jindal’s propensity to offer tax incentives whenever and wherever possible. Of course, he prefers giving those breaks to political allies of the corporate stripe as opposed to individuals.

Riser was somewhat confused by the governor’s actions. “Most people don’t realize there are zero taxes on soft drinks, but yet we tax water,” he said.

“Water delivered to the home through pipes is already exempt from sales tax,” Jindal said.

But still, as noted earlier, the veto was curious and inconsistent. On June 12, Jindal vetoed a renewal of a 4-cent cigarette tax that would have meant $12 million additional to the state in direct tax revenue, plus another $36 million in federal Medicaid revenue. Annually.

That’s $48 million per year the state stood to lose because of Jindal’s bull-headedness over his promise not to impose “tax increases.” The only problem with that is it wasn’t a “tax increase,” it was a tax renewal. College tuition increases? Now, that’s a tax increase. But apparently he’s okay with making it even more difficult to afford a college education.

And that $48 million per year is almost six times the $8.3 million he was so concerned about losing to the tax exemption on the sale of water. He said the water tax exemption would have cost the state $52.7 million over five years. Try a five-year loss of $240 million over failure to renew the cigarette tax.

And how was the cigarette tax revenue to have been used? Healthcare. And what was his expressed concern over the tax exemption on the sale of water? “It is important that we protect scarce resources for priorities like healthcare and higher education.” His words, not ours.

At least the House, while not possessing the stones to override his cigarette tax veto, did include the tax renewal as an amendment to the TOPS bill that will be put to voters this fall in the form of a Constitutional amendment.

And, as he hits the campaign trail in the weeks leading up to October’s election, he can truthfully and oh-so-sincerely tell voters that it was not he who opted to attach that 4-cent tax to the TOPS bill.

After all, it apparently is all about saving face.

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“This veto is not the fruit of wise leadership. There’s a time for politics and a time for principle. This time, principle trumps politics. Tobacco, if not already legal, would be an illegal drug. It is the worst legal substance human beings can place inside their bodies. Don’t be on record today as supporting its use.”

Rep. Hollis Downs (R-Ruston), urging fellow House members to override Gov. Bobby Jindal’s veto of the 4-cent cigarette tax renewal. The override effort fell 12 votes short.

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