BATON ROUGE - Governor Bobby Jindal sent word to two Democratic lawmakers today that he intends to veto three of the bills they succeeded in passing in the session that ended on June 4.
Jindal notified Senator Karen Carter Peterson of his intent to veto SB-577 which passed on the final day of the session. Majorities in the House and Senate agreed to create the Louisiana Equal Pay Task Force to study the reasons why Louisiana has such a wide disparity between the pay of men and women. The bill did not obligate the state to take any corrective action, merely to study the issue. That was too much for Jindal's vice presidential aspirations to stomach, so he had his people contact Senator Peterson to inform her of his veto decision.
"The Governor complains that the State can't afford the modest cost to even study the issue of pay equity, yet he's been able to shovel millions from our State's coffers toward corporate welfare boondoggles and sweetheart deals for consultants and political contributors," Senator Peterson said in a statement released through her New Orleans office. "This is just another example of the Governor's shamefully warped priorities and an affront to the women of this state."
Jindal's staff informed Representative Katrina Jackson that two of her bills were being vetoed by the Governor.
HB-1104 would require 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 are producing the results promised when the various breaks were created.
In a session during a fiscal year where repeated revenue shortfalls were forcing damaging cuts to essential institutions and services, it became clear that Louisiana has a revenue problem. The Louisiana Department of Revenue's 2012 "Tax Exemption Budget" report said that the state has 464 tax exemptions on the books that cost Louisiana taxpayers $4.8 Billion every year. Representative Jackson's HB-1104 would create the means by which to measure the effectiveness of the exemptions, as well as tax credits and rebate programs passed by the Legislature and signed into law by a Governor.
That was too much transparency and accountability for the Governor to stomach, so he's informed Representative Jackson that he's vetoing the bill.
"Louisiana has cut vital services in the areas of health care and higher education," Representative Jackson said in a statement. "It has laid off state workers an shaved spending to the bare bone. Every aspect of our state's spending habits have been reviewed and trimmed, with the exception of our largest expenditure: tax credits, exemptions, and rebates. The veto of these bills impair good government and transparency."
Representative Jackson's HB-1106 is also going to be vetoed she learned today. HB-1106 would have allowed people who contribute money to public schools that are under-performing to receive a tax rebate. The total expenditures related to the bill were capped. Still, Jindal vetoed it.
"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," Representative Jackson said in response to the veto promise. "This is truly a blow to public education."
It is worth noting that Jindal signed into law, HB-969
which provides a full rebate to people who contributed to Tuition Scholarship Organizations, which are tax exempt entities that a just coming into being. People who contribute to these organizations (which supplement vouchers) will receive a federal tax credit for making the contribution to a 501(c)3.
The bill Jindal has signed into law says that the state will then issue a rebate in the amount of the money contributed. That is, TSO contributors get their tax break AND the money they supposedly donated in order to earn it.
Jindal's approach of coddling the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted will continue in the new fiscal year.
Governor Jindal can be reached for comment at the Governor's Office: 225-342-7015. We're sure he'd love to hear from you on these vetoes.