Will he or won’t he?
As much as Gov. John Bel Edwards and state lawmakers must be ready to put 19 weeks of pressure cooker legislating behind them, the governor has a few big decisions to make before he goes fishing.
One is whether to veto the Legislature’s last-minute move to front-load limited state funding for the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students.
In raising less revenue than Edwards requested, lawmakers shorted the always popular college scholarships for the first time, budgeting only 70 percent of the total cost for the fiscal year that starts July 1. On the second special session’s last day, conservative House members successfully pushed to fully fund the scholarships for the fall semester, leaving students on the hook for more than half their tuition come spring. Edwards and his allies objected, arguing the amendment may be unconstitutional, that it amounts to dishonest budgeting and that it doesn’t jibe with how other financial aid is awarded.
Edwards has said he’s considering a veto, but no word yet on his decision.
A second question is whether Edwards will use his veto pen to push back against lawmakers who blocked his agenda. The obvious place to look here is the capital outlay budget, which is loaded with voter-pleasing projects in individual lawmakers’ districts.
Past governor have used their line-item veto and other tools in their toolbox to assert their authority. Gov. Bobby Jindal in particular used his veto aggressively. Unlike Jindal, though, Edwards came out of the Legislature and would clearly prefer cooperation over confrontation.
Given that he didn’t get as much cooperation as he would have liked, the biggest short- term question coming out of the never-ending session is this: What’s he going to do about it?