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LA legislator's excuse reminds of her insignificance

So state Rep. Pat Smith is all upset because Gov. Bobby Jindal cast a line item veto against a project she sponsored. For the second year in a row, Jindal vetoed appropriations for the Louisiana Art and Science Museum in Baton Rouge, and what particularly galls her is entities such as the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame in Winnfield and Sci-Port in Shreveport escaped Jindal’s pen.

But to say it is a form of “retaliation” concerning her voting record, especially on a bill concerning disclosure by the governor’s office, is pure fantasy on her part. Reasons abound to demonstrate why.

First, while Jindal is never going to say he “retaliated” against any legislator, at the same time he offers a plausible reason for the vetoes – no regional impact compared to something like Sci-Port. Second, Smith was just one of many legislators to vote against Jindal’s preferences on not just that bill but also many more, so if that were Jindal’s decision criterion, a whole host of measures from a wide array of legislators should have been struck by him. Third, even if Jindal seemed to decide things this way, Smith was by no means Jindal’s biggest critic or obstacle to his agenda.

State Sen. Lydia Jackson, for example, sponsored legislation very opposed by Jindal to reverse already-implemented tax deductions. When the initial try was ruled unconstitutional by House Speaker Jim Tucker and not dealt with in that chamber, she tried again by amending her bill onto a House bill. On the floor in debate of these bills she criticized Jindal, and even in committee on a bill dealing with disclaimers on state publications she ripped into the Jindal Administration. She took every chance great and small to harangue Jindal over their policy differences, so if Jindal was in a retaliatory mood Jackson should be his obvious target. And – you guessed it – Sci-Port is in Jackson’s district.

It’s possible that a Jindal line item veto here or there might be designed to send a message. However, Jindal seems to do what he says in terms of projects meeting criteria such as public submission and discussion and statewide or regional impact when viewing the totality of his choices to retain or snip. Certainly the Baton Rouge museum didn’t close down because it didn’t get state money last year, validating the decision then and now.

And if Jindal were going to punish a legislator, let’s be frank, evidence is Smith simply isn’t that important or worth it. So the proper interpretation of her remarks is not that they have any validity, but that they reflect a big ego spilling out of a puny politician simultaneously searching to be taken seriously and to try to make excuses as to why she can’t deliver the goods.

1 comment:

James S said...

Any slap at smith is worth the effort. She was a clown on the EBR school board and continues in that vein as a legislator. She's just useless...