Gov. John Bel Edwards is giving state lawmakers a chance to repeal legislation that was key to passing the current budget but that many agree makes little sense in practice.
Item No. 14 on Edwards’ call for the special legislative session that started Sunday is the repeal of the Student Assessment for a Valuable Education Act. The SAVE Act item is the only repeal listed among the 38 items up for consideration.
“It was such a preposterous scheme,” Edwards said when asked Wednesday about his call for SAVE’s end.
The House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday quickly passed a measure that would repeal SAVE, advancing House Bill 2 to the House floor just days into the special session.
On paper, SAVE represented a phantom fee that would be imposed on college students — but never seen — balanced out by an equally ambiguous tax credit.
It applied to every public college student in the state this year, but it has never appeared on any bill and no one has had to pay for it.
“I didn’t make any bones at the time that it was a sham,” said Rep. Chris Broadwater, the Hammond Republican who pushed the legislation last year, arguing it was the only way to get around Gov. Bobby Jindal’s promise to veto an increase in the taxes on tobacco products. Broadwater sponsored HB2.
Jindal, who announced a campaign for president in June that he eventually dropped in November, had signed a “no tax” pledge with the Americans for Tax Reform. SAVE, Jindal allies said, would prevent Jindal from vetoing a budget that increased taxes elsewhere.
Edwards, who served in the state Legislature for eight years before becoming governor on Jan. 11, called SAVE an “embarrassment” that needed to be taken off the books.
“It’s a fake statutory dedication, and we’re going to repeal it,” Edwards said. “This is another political trick by the Bobby Jindal administration.”
The repeal — much like the original bill itself — will have no effect on actual fees paid or tax credits students get.
Edwards’ plan to kill SAVE appears to have at least some support in the State Capitol. Two of the three bills that have been filed in advance of the special session call for the repeal.