Gov. Bobby Jindal followed through with his promise to veto the renewal of a 4-cent state tax on cigarettes, characterizing it as a new tax. It was an existing tax set to expire, but that’s just semantics. Now we’ll see if Jindal can marshal his formidable power of persuasion (read, threaten to block public works projects) with some within the overwhelming majority of Republican lawmakers in both the Senate and House who voted for the renewal. Jindal only needs to peel off a few — literally one from the House and four from the Senate — to prevent an override of his veto.
Lawmakers, especially within the GOP, are in something of a pickle: While the tax only generates $12 million annually, that’s still $12 million that will have to be cut elsewhere if the tax is not renewed through a veto override. Any lawmaker who voted for the renewal and then wilts under pressure from the governor’s office — Jindal has called the veto “personal” and has appeal to his fellow Republicans to back him — is agreeing to cut $12 million from the budget in order to lower the price of cigarettes. How do you spin that with voters back home?
As columnist James Gill observed about Jindal in Sunday’s Times-Picayune:
[T]he principle on which he has elected to stand is a highly perverse one, and his main concern remains himself. ...Jindal, in his quest to lower the price of cigarettes in Louisiana, is not only bucking public opinion but setting himself up to be the first governor in decades to suffer the indignity of a legislative override. He is evidently willing to pay the price of maintaining an anti-tax stance even when it defies all reason. Say tax, and Jindal will jump up and shake his head. Pavlov would approve.
Today’s Advocate has more on the veto and possible override, as well as a link to a 1997 article Jindal, then secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals, penned for the Louisiana State Medical Society calling for higher sales taxes on cigarettes to offset the cost of health care for smokers. Jindal on Monday declined to comment on the article or what his apparently his ideologically driven one-80 on the issue.
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DEC 5 Here's the latest in the contest to see who gets the last word - Attorney General Buddy Caldwell or state Sen. Robert Adley. They're trading "Nuh-uhs" and "Un-huhs" over the issue of contigency contracts for public lawsuits. The guys over at LaPolitics kinda started this urinary competition, and they're posting the latest here.
DEC 5 Here's a post by blogger Walt Bennetti about a $2 million program management contract that Kenner Mayor Michael Yenni plans to award. Bennetti has a problem with no-bid contracts, but they're pretty common, especially for professional services (because really, who wants the cheapest doctor?) But the real problem Bennetti has is with the fact that the entity slated to receive the contract also happened to contribute to Yenni's campaign. Maybe he's just following the governor's lead?
DEC 5 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the really embarassing state of Louisiana's universities in this post. Grambling's football facilites were bad enough to warrant a New York Times photo essay, and he provides a link. And just recently, a concrete roof panel in LSU's College of Art and Design collapsed, closing a portion of the building indefinitely. Is this how we want our state's higher ed institutions to be?
DEC 5 Here's a post on the National Journal about another speech our governor gave to a bunch of people who live in another state. This time, he was ranting about President Obama, energy policies and, of all things, Lady Gaga. Keystone is good, so is fracking, and climate change is a big joke, Bobby says. What did Gaga do? She joined a movement, with people like Yoko Ono, that opposes fracking. Listen up Bobby: you might not want to alienate Gaga. You never know where those little monsters might be hiding -- and how often they vote.
DEC 5 Yesterday, we were perplexed by conflicting stories on the Blade blog and in the Advertiser about Louisiana's National Guard and same-sex partner benefits. The Blade reported that the guard would be paying them; the Advertiser said it would not. This story in the Washington Post clears it up: the benefits will be paid.
DEC 5 Clearly, somebody over at the state Democratic Party is familiar with the process of domain registration. This is the second time they've pulled the rug out from under a Republican candidate by reserving a domain they might want. Last time, it was RiserForCongress.com (hope they didn't pay too much for THAT one). This time it is VitterForGovernor.com, this post on the Politicus USA blog tells us.
DEC 5 Here's a pretty alarming story from WAFB about an announcement by Bobby Jindal's administration that hackers apparently got their hands on some citizens' personal info through JP Morgan Chase, the company that gets paid to send you your tax refund on a debit card. But hey, don't worry, Jindal's people say: there's no indication the hackers used the info "fraudulently." Oh, OK. Whew.
DEC 5 In this week's post, Jim Brown is blogging about Bobby Jindal and what the governor should do to solve his myriad problems. He even describes a phone call he 'received' from the guv asking for advice. Bottom line? Try staying home and doing the job you're supposed to be doing, Jim advises.
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