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2015 Regular Legislative Session begins

BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - The 2015 Regular Legislative Session kicked off at the state capitol Monday and the focus was and will be on money matters. Still, during his opening day session speech, Governor Bobby Jindal called for an end to Common Core in Louisiana and expressed support for a religious freedom bill.

As part of the quest to plug holes in the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, Jindal said it is time to reign in spending tied to some state tax credits.

Critics are said some individuals and companies are getting refunds from the state that exceed what they have paid in taxes.

The state inventory tax which is collected by local governments is one area Jindal wants to reduce spending.

“The truth is today we have a system of corporate welfare in this state. Our businesses are a great asset but we cannot stand idly by while companies pay zero in state taxes and then continue getting free taxpayer money on the government on top of it," said Jindal.

Low oil prices worsened an already bad budget picture. Money deficiencies are nothing new and in recent years budgets have included one time dollars to help balance the budget.

“ It's not just this year. It's every year and our problem is more systemic because of the fact that so much of our budget is mandated by the constitution," said Republican Senator A.G. Crowe of Slidell. "Every year we're fighting how to come up with enough funds for higher education and health care, so if we come to the table together and see what the systemic issue was and address that we'll have this every year."

The governor used his speech to call for an end to common core.

"We have to get rid of Common Core," Jindal said.

Senator Crowe is all for that.

"I'm for the buzz cut on Common Core, get rid of it," he said.

Still, others from the New Orleans area disagree.

"I think it's a bad idea, you know, the problem with that was a couple of years ago he asked us to implement Common Core, now he's pulling the rug from under us," said State Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans.

Jindal is backing a bill on religious liberty. This as two other states landed in a firestorm over similar legislation.

Jindal said there are misconceptions about the bill.

"This legislation does not allow a restaurant or industry to refuse service to a gay or lesbian person. The law merely ensures the state cannot deny a license, or certification, accreditation, or contracts, to a person or business on the basis of their sincerely held belief about marriage," Jindal said.

Lawmakers want Jindal to be engaged as they look for solutions.

"If he stays up on the fourth floor and wait for us to send him something and we have to decide whether he is going to veto it or not we'd much rather know early, so we can try and fix it. We've got a constitutional mandate to balance the budget," said Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Kenner.


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