Governor's anti-tax pledge weighed heavily on final day of 2015 session

Published: Jun. 11, 2015 at 11:27 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 11, 2015 at 11:42 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - State lawmakers put in a lot of last minute work as the 2015 legislative session neared at end, and state house members approved what some called a gimmick to appease the governor and prevent a veto.

The governor's anti-tax pledge weighed heavily on the final days of the session.

The fact that a final budget agreement went down to the wire is nothing new in terms of the state legislature.

It was the fact that lawmakers had a veto threat hanging over their heads that riled some.

"We have done our jobs, as of last night we had come up with a budget that funded higher education, that funded health care, funded K-12 education, we have done our job and I think we've done a yeoman;s job in both the house and senate side to make sure that that happens, that budget is in place, those funds are in place, the only issue is whether or not the governor is willing to let all that go to waste to keep a promise to somebody outside of Louisiana," said Rep. Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans.

Jindal said he would veto hundreds of millions in tax increases passed by both house and senate members to close a $1.6 billion dollar revenue shortfall if lawmakers failed to offset the new revenues with tax breaks or spending reductions.

Many lawmakers balked at the "Save Fund" Jindal supported. It would give college students a tax credit for a yet to exist fee that would generate $300 million.

Legislative leaders pushed to get the "Save Fund" passed to avoid a veto showdown.

"I think that's very important so that when we go home our work is complete, people don't have to worry about the colleges and universities being cut and that the health care doesn't get cut, we've provided enough funds to open the new Charity Hospital in New Orleans," said Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego.

Others continued to frown on the idea.

"The revenue neutrality issue, for me, I think that's something that we should never had to deal with this particular session to try to appease Grover Norquist," said Rep. Helena Moreno, D-New Orleans.

"I don't think Grover Norquist is the governor of Louisiana , I think that Bobby Jindal is supposed to be," said Rep. Bishop.

Lawmakers also tied up loose ends on increasing the state cigarette tax which is currently 36-cents a pack.

They also voted to scale back some tax credits for businesses and the film industry.

But a retiring lawmaker said spending and having too many mandated expenditures are at the heart of the state's ongoing budget problems.

"We don't have a taxing problem here in the state of Louisiana, we have a spending problem," said republican .Sen. A.G. Crowe.

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