Anorther teacher union on Friday filed a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal's voucher program. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Monday, July 02, 2012 11:59 AM
Some state lawmakers and officials agree, but aren’t sure why, that Gov. Bobby Jindal has shown a more aggressive side in his second term, in which lawmakers have been stripped of committee seats and some state programs have been cut.
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said two of Jindal’s 10 line-item vetoes were in his budget, including $100,000 that was stripped from the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, or CODOFIL. Dardenne said the cut — nearly half of the council’s $223,000 budget — was irrational because the council brings in tourism money and provides a French immersion program for students.
“It really is a slap in the face to the French-speaking people in the state,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense to me. At a time when we’re reflecting on our bicentennial, it’s a big step backwards for us.”
Jindal explained in his veto message that the state’s budget preamble requires his administration to cut $15 million.
“This activity has been adequately funded and this veto will help to comply with the $15 million preamble adjustment; therefore, I am vetoing this item,” Jindal stated.
Dardenne — who has been outspoken about the state’s need to invest more money to promote tourism — said he is unsure why the cuts were directed at his office.
“I have been critical on (state government) not spending enough money on marketing our state,” he said. “If that’s what’s provoked the governor to veto these items, it’s unfortunate. That’s not a rational reason.”
Dardenne said he is fine with Jindal targeting him specifically, but it should not be at the expense of programs that benefit the state.
House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, said he is unsure why the cuts to CODOFIL were made, and that he is working to restore them. He said the French immersion program is critical for students in Southwest Louisiana.
“One of my daughters spent kindergarten through 12th grade in French immersion,” Kleckley said. “Statistics reflect that students who go through the program perform 25 percent better than other students. Louisiana has a French-speaking culture.”
A couple of state lawmakers and other state employees have lost committee seats or their jobs for speaking out against the governor’s legislative proposals. Rep. Jim Morris, R-Oil City, recently lost his position as vice chair of the House Natural Resources Committee after criticizing how the Jindal administration handled the budget. Rep. Harold Ritchie, D-Bogalusa, was stripped of his vice chairmanship of the House Insurance Committee after he voted against an education tax-break bill that was part of Jindal’s education reform package.
Martha Manuel, who Jindal hired as a staffer in February last year, was fired last March after she criticized a proposal to move the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs into the state Department of Health and Hospitals.
The removal of lawmakers is not unusual, said state Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Moss Bluff, who, during his previous term, saw former Gov. Kathleen Blanco make similar decisions.
The interesting point about Jindal’s relationship with some conservative lawmakers in the House and Senate, he said, is its contentious nature.
“That seems to be where the majority of the tension is, as I see it,” Geymann said. “To me, it seems like we would be much closer to him and working more closely on the issues than we appear to be.”
Geymann said he believes Jindal sees the Legislature as an “inconvenience” in getting his measures accomplished, including this year’s budget. During a meeting with Jindal’s administration, Geymann said he and other lawmakers known as the “fiscal hawks” were not allowed to discuss their plan to balance the budget.
“Forty (House lawmakers) voted against the budget, and 37 of those were Republican,” he said. “All us can’t be wrong. There’s got to be something going on here.”
Dr. Pearson Cross, head of the Political Science Department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said Jindal’s second-term power shift likely came about because he was re-elected with very little opposition and because of the Republican majorities in the House and Senate.
Cross said it is a stark contrast to Jindal’s first term, during which he was criticized for shying away from some contentious issues.
“People are not going to say that (Jindal) is timid anymore,” he said. “He is the sheriff, and we’re seeing that very clearly.”
While Jindal’s actions differ little from those of other Louisiana governors, Cross said he does not believe they benefit the state.
“We do have a precedence for this in Louisiana, and it is problematic,” he said. “This sends a very chilling message: you can disagree with the governor, but be prepared to pay an economic price. Frankly, I don’t think that is great government.”
However, Cross said he believes Jindal’s public image has not been affected. He said Jindal may be acting more aggressive in an attempt to grab a spot as Republican Gov. Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate.
“The vice president is usually the person willing to carry an attack to the enemy,” Cross said. “Maybe it’s his way of proving he can be tough. At this point in Jindal’s career, you’re looking beyond the present into the future.”
State Rep. Mike Danahay, D-Sulphur, said the way Jindal has pushed his agenda is “nothing new.”
“That’s the power of the position,” he said. “I wish it wouldn’t have taken the turn that it has. It seems to have become more personal.”
Despite Jindal making line-item vetoes and stripping lawmakers from committees, Danahay said plenty of lawmakers are willing to attack Jindal’s leadership.
“It’s a two-way street,” he said. “Some lawmakers got under his skin.”
Danahay said he would like the Legislature to create the state’s budget instead of the governor. Such a change would require a constitutional amendment.
Posted By: Terry T On: 6/24/2012
Title: chuckie hurting lake charles schools in his district
chuck and bobby ....what a couple of clowns that have no idea of what they are doing........someone needs to tell chuck that bobby is not god and remind him what a fool he has become following Jindal...........hope chuck and bobby enjoy the last term ever in office in La