From a centerpiece of State Capitol controversy to a friendless relic of former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s presidential campaign, the so-called Student Assessment for a Valuable Education Act of last year is headed for the legislative boneyard.
In the special session of the Legislature now underway, lawmakers are being urged by Gov. John Bel Edwards to eliminate the SAVE Act from the books.
Item No. 14 on Edwards’ call for the special legislative session that started Sunday is the repeal of the SAVE Act, which 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.
Legislators are waving the repeal bill through, as they should. On paper, SAVE represented a phantom fee that would be imposed on college students — but never seen — balanced out by an equally invisible “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.
Why? Because Jindal was running for president, and he wanted to show a “credit” that would offset revenue needed to balance the then-governor’s increasingly shambolic budget.
“I didn’t make any bones at the time that it was a sham,” said state Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, who pushed SAVE to avoid Jindal’s veto of an increase in the taxes on tobacco products. We can’t blame Broadwater at all, but this was such a silly notion, based on the “no tax” pledge Jindal — and many lawmakers, too — had signed to Washington lobbyist Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, a GOP pressure group.
“It’s a fake statutory dedication, and we’re going to repeal it,” Edwards said recently. “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. But we think it is symbolic of a widespread desire in the State Capitol to get back to real dollars-and-sense budget practices instead of Washington-style gimmickry.