Gov. Bobby Jindal?s tone on his legislative package is changing from playful to philosophical as the session draws near a close.
A number of the governor?s proposals are faltering.
The first blow came in mid-May when House Speaker Jim Tucker conceded defeat on the proposed merger of the University of New Orleans and Southern University at New Orleans.
?It?s a sad day,? Tucker, R-Terrytown, declared.
Jindal, on the other hand, refused to acknowledge the merger was dead even as the Legislature began working on a compromise to move UNO from the LSU System and into the University of Louisiana System.
A few weeks later, the governor?s bid to sell prisons in Allen, Avoyelles and Winn parishes died in the House Committee on Appropriations. Corrections workers and their families cheered the proposal?s demise.
The next day, the Jindal administration was dealt defeat once again with the failure of college tuition and fee increase bills.
A proposal to allow colleges to raise operational fees as tuition costs increase fell a staggering 60 votes shy of passage in the House.
A second bill to raise tuition costs for students who are on track to graduate in four years by taking 15 credit hours per semester is evolving into an entirely different proposal.
The votes were not there to get the idea that Jindal pitched through the Legislature.
Asked how the session is going for the governor, Tucker demurred.
?You need to talk to the governor about how the session?s going for the governor,? he said.
Lately, Jindal has been meeting with the Capitol press corps on Friday afternoons at the Governor?s Mansion in a sunlit study adorned with political mementos and photographs of his children. With his top aides sprawled on sofas and chairs in the background, the governor reviews the week?s progress.
Initially, Jindal was playful about his package?s fate. He smiled broadly and teasingly declared that he expected all of his proposals to pass the Legislature.
The day he turned 40 ? and with 13 days left in the session ? Jindal no longer was jovially defiant. Instead, he was philosophical, using baseball terms to explain the failure of bills he backed.
?If we bat a thousand, that means we?re not asking for enough,? Jindal said.
The governor said he is not giving up on his ideas. However, he acknowledged that he is working with the Senate to build a budget that does not include money from prison sales.
Jindal initially wanted to use part of the proceeds from the sales to pay health-care costs for the poor. That idea appears to be dead, at least this year, given the rejection of the prison sales.
State Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, said the governor is suffering from three years of abdicating his involvement with the Legislature to aides.
?Generally things fall through because they?re bad ideas. Sometimes they fall through because it?s difficult to pass a good idea,? he said.
Adley said the prison sales were a bad idea while the college merger would have shifted too much responsibility to the LSU System.
?Obviously it?s not been a good session. Everyone has to face that,? he said.
Michelle Millhollon covers the Governor?s Office for The Advocate?s Capitol news bureau. Her email address is email@example.com.