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|Jindal's punching bags|
If Gov. Bobby Jindal was hoping the anger among some state lawmakers would eventually subside in light of his veto of a legislative pay raise, he can rest assured some of them will remain ticked off for awhile.
That's a safe assumption since the governor vetoed some 258 items state lawmakers tucked away in House Bill 1 in the regular legislative session. Those items authorized the expenditure of taxpayer monies on projects ranging from an African-American museum in Monroe to playground equipment in Sen. John Alario's district near New Orleans.
For those who aren't hip on legislative speak, HB 1 is the legislation that outlines the state's expenditures for a given fiscal year. In this reference to HB 1, we're talking about the state's plans to spend our tax dollars in the 2008-09 fiscal year, which began July 1.
Though Jindal's line-item vetoes totaled some $16 million, that's not a great deal of money if one will recall the state budget stands at roughly $30 billion. Do the math.
Still, Jindal's vetoes of state funding for the so-called NGOs, or non-government organizations, were as if the governor added salt to a wound. The wound, in this case, stemmed from Jindal's veto of the pay hikes lawmakers approved for themselves a few weeks ago.
Now legislators have another issue, or issues, to complain about. Suffice it to say, though, the only people who will lend a sympathetic ear to any gripes over the vetoes are the folks who would have been on the receiving end of the people's money.
Yet, in listening to and reading the comments some lawmakers offered to the media on the heels of Jindal's vetoes, one got the impression a coup was about to ensue on the steps of the capitol. That's a bit of a stretch, but you get the picture.
It's not a stretch, however, to observe that legislators who saw their pet projects vetoed did an excellent job in grandstanding for the media. They also did a bang-up, good job in grandstanding for the folks on the home front, or the people who watched Jindal take his pen and strike expenditures from the budget that the governor felt were a waste of money.
While it is within reason to assume Jindal will feel blowback from his vetoes for a spell—at least from some lawmakers and their constituents—the governor can rest easy. He can rest easy because you can bet the farm the average voter wholeheartedly supports Jindal using his constitutional authority to put a stop to what they believe is a waste of the people's money on projects that should be paid for with private money or local government's money. In many cases, the average voter, or Joe Six Pack, doesn't believe those NGOs should exist in the first place. And in many cases, Joe Six Pack is correct.
Still, Jindal must deal with a host of lawmakers who probably feel betrayed, or punched on, or beat up. They most likely will say they would have never promised their constituents some help from the state on the financial front had they known the governor was going to veto funding for what—in their eyes—was a worthy cause, or causes.
It's bunk because some lawmakers—at least the veteran legislators—have perfected the art of promising their constituents the moon, knowing it was a long shot at best that the state would actually pay for it. That's politics, though. It's politics at play, too, when lawmakers blame the governor for vetoing line-item expenditures that should have never seen the light of day in any budget of any governing body anywhere on the planet.
In any event, it is crystal clear Jindal doesn't give a continental damn what the Legislature thinks or how lawmakers feel or whose toes he steps on in exercising the authority the state constitution grants him. We've been down this road before, but comparing Bobby Jindal to Buddy Roemer would be a bit unfair for the obvious reasons.
It's crystal clear, too, that Jindal hit another homerun in the eyes and minds of the average voter by vetoing what was perceived to be a waste of the people's money.
And the Legislature took it on the chin again.