The new legislative year has been marked by a series of difficult votes on money matters, but a few have been remarkably easy.
The simplest way to unite all factions of the often warring Legislature these days, it seems, is to ask them to repudiate former Gov. Bobby Jindal.
During the recent special session, legislators could hardly wait to repeal the gimmicky SAVE Act that Jindal insisted they pass last year. The convoluted budget maneuver was designed to allow Jindal to essentially raise taxes and still be able to claim he hadn’t because he’d created a phantom offset. It was pointless and embarrassing, as even some of its loudest proponents in the Legislature acknowledged at the time. This year’s repeal measure, fittingly titled House Bill No. 2, passed without a single dissent.
The same fate appears in store for state Sen. Gerald Long’s regular session bill to prevent governors from doling out pay raises during the last 90 days of their term without approval from the joint House and Senate budget committee. This is exactly what Jindal did, to the tune of several million dollars, even as he left a huge budget hole for the next governor and Legislature to fill.
When Long brought his bill up for a Senate vote last week, he noted that “we received a tremendous amount of bad press” when the raises became public. Apparently nobody had to be reminded of that. There were no questions or additional comments before the Senate voted unanimously in favor.
These measures, of course, are popular for another reason as well. They don’t affect the state’s bottom line, or require anyone to pay more or give up any benefit. So nobody who weighs in deserves any sort of Profile in Courage award.
As a statement, though, the votes speak loudly. Jindal’s approval rating with the public dropped as low as 20 percent during his final year. You’ve got to wonder whether he’d even score that high among people who now have to clean up the mess he left behind.
‘Grace notes’ is a daily feature by Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace. To read more of her content, including her full columns, click here.