For all of the talk about how the 2011 Louisiana Legislature’s regular session showed a degree of assertion by lawmakers, Gov. Bobby Jindal just keeps outfoxing some of its members by swatting away counterproductive legislation.
Despite rejection after rejection, objectionable legislation had made its way into the operating budget, which last week Jindal cast a line item veto against. The measure’s backer, state Sen. Lydia Jackson, then moaned and complained about being caught out with a rhetorical attack on Jindal, avoiding addressing that what she had gotten placed in was unconstitutional in the first place.
This week, Jindal knocked down a bad bill with his regular veto, SB 6, which would have unfairly foisted extra expenses on charter schools and other agencies for which they had no responsibility.
The bill would have made new chartered schools have to pay for the unfunded accrued liabilities of system employees before chartering (as under a charter employees do not have to be enrolled in the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana), holding them responsible for underfunding committed by the system before they even came into existence. It also would force agencies that privatized functions thereby reducing costs and jobs to do the same.
Designed as a deterrent to chartering and privatization by special interests and their politician allies interested in keeping government as large and as centralized as possible, author Democrat state Sen. Butch Gautreaux, perhaps the most rancid partisan in the Legislature and also chairman of the Senate Retirement Committee, no doubt knew the Republican Jindal would not countenance this and so made deals with other House members sponsoring retirement legislature to pass theirs by setting up some other bowling pins around his preferred one, by getting their authors to ask for rejection of uncontroversial Senate amendments, throwing their bills into a conference committee, then at the last minute in conference slipping in a provision tying their fates to SB 6, and subsequently having the House approve the bill as it had sent it to the Senate with that new provision.
Doing this dared Jindal, with a veto of SB 6, essentially to undo three other bills he supported and had signed. So, Jindal rolled it down the lane and completed the spare. Which naturally put Gautreaux in high dudgeon, who fulminated that Jindal just wanted to make him look bad (although anybody who ever watched him run the committee knows he needed no help in doing that).
But Gautreaux brought it on himself by pushing for the linkage in his and other legislators’ zeal to put saving state jobs and power ahead of children and taxpayers. Jindal was exactly right to nullify this protection of power and privilege, as he noted in his veto message. And to demonstrate again that matters obscured by the eddies and currents of the murky legislative sausage-making process weren’t going to succeed in subverting the right policy.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 12:00