Their responses are in, or not, and our state legislators have spoken: They will leave solving the health care crisis to the governor rather than take responsibility for it themselves. A solid majority of the House, 66, and a super majority of the Senate, 30, did not sign the petition for a special session to deal with the sudden loss of federal Medicaid dollars and the governor's plan to close a mental health hospital and to gut public hospitals, turning some into glorified out-patient clinics.
Most of the non-signers were Republicans, but a fair number were Democrats. By their inaction, some are saying they support Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan for this massive, historic and rapid change in public health care. Others have misgivings but do not know what else to do. Their overriding fear would be to spend $80,000 a day in special session and to not come up with a better solution. That would only serve to shift the growing public anger over the hospital cuts and layoffs from Jindal to themselves.
Yet, in a recent interview with IND Monthly, House Speaker Rep. Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, gives a different take on why the session failed. He says Richard’s session didn’t fly because the Thibodaux representative had no clear plan of action, not to mention the fact that it would cost taxpayers $180 a day for 15 days per lawmaker.
“(Richard) called me and I told him I didn’t have a problem with the session, but would need a clear understanding of what he wanted to do,” Kleckley says. “My reason for not supporting it was because there wasn’t a clear message or a clear plan on how to fix the problem.”
Jindal's vow to veto the session is another reason, Kleckley adds, noting that even if Richard had attained the required number of signatures, a veto would have required 70 votes, or two-thirds of the House, to override.
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