If you want to determine if the governor of Louisiana has too much power, the remarkable scene in the House of Representatives last week was illuminating.
The House passed a number of bills that raise the tobacco tax and revise the rules for corporate tax breaks, a legislative package intended to raise money to fill a large part of the yawning gap in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed budget.
The governor was opposed to most of the things that passed. Yet they passed anyway. Does that suggest that the governor has too much power? Actually, it does, because it took an almost complete budgetary catastrophe to bring the House to vote — again and again, sometimes by veto-proof 70-vote margins — for bills that the governor doesn’t want.
The leadership of the House, including one of Jindal’s fellow Republicans, Speaker Chuck Kleckley, of Lake Charles, rallied opinion across party and regional lines to cut the tax breaks added in recent years. It is a significant departure for the way the House has done business in the Jindal years. Really, just about forever. The Kleckley package was not all clear sailing. Many industries don’t want a 20 percent cut in credits or other tax benefits that they’re used to. But this is necessary. We don’t like every particular cut; some, though, correct abuses of tax breaks in recent years that were detailed in The Advocate’s series of special reports last year, “Giving Away Louisiana.” We can’t give Louisiana’s future away by cutting colleges and universities to the tune of as much as 82 percent.Let’s hope that both senators and the governor bear this in mind as the legislative process continues toward a June 11 deadline.