Jun 28, 2010 8:04 PM by Chris Welty
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget vetoes fell
heavily on the pet projects of lawmakers who crossed his
administration this session, leading to complaints Monday that
Jindal used the budget for political retaliation.
Lawmakers also bristled at Jindal's removal of $24.9 million for
coastal parishes battling the Gulf oil spill, saying it could slow
cleanup and response efforts.
The governor used his line-item veto to nick about $1.6 million
of the $30 million in projects added by state lawmakers for their
districts back home.
House Speaker Jim Tucker, who didn't back Jindal in passing the
budget, lost several projects in his district. Sens. Joe McPherson
and Robert Adley, who successfully pushed bills against the wishes
of the administration, say they lost all their earmarks to Jindal's
"This is a way that the governor controls the Legislature:
reward and punishment," McPherson, D-Woodworth, said Monday.
But the earmark cuts didn't surprise lawmakers like the removal
of oil spill money for coastal communities.
"This oil spill is going to kill us. It's killing us right now,
and you're going to stand on the sidelines and veto money to help
us fight it?" said Rep. Reed Henderson, D-Chalmette.
In his veto letter, Jindal said oil giant BP PLC should be
responsible for covering those costs, not state taxpayers. He also
said the allocation to parishes exceeded the money available in the
oil spill fund that would be tapped.
Coastal parish lawmakers argued local communities can't afford
to float the money for response efforts and wait for reimbursement.
"The local governments are crying for financial help, and
apparently the governor's decided to let them go cry to BP and let
the chips fall where they may," Tucker said Monday.
Despite complaints about Jindal vetoes, lawmakers say it's
unlikely they'll return to Baton Rouge to try to overturn them in a
Questioned about the earmark vetoes, the Jindal administration
didn't respond to requests Monday about who decided what should be
stripped from the $26 billion budget and why. The governor's veto
letters said either the projects should be funded from other
sources or didn't meet his criteria that they be regional in nature
and have been discussed publicly.
More than 50 items were stripped from the budget bills by Jindal
in a series of Friday night vetoes, including three dozen
"These vetoes reduce the overall size of the budget. Some
people wanted us to veto more, and some people wanted us to veto
less. We sought to strike a balance," said Michael DiResto, a
spokesman for the governor's budget office, in a statement.
Four earmarks totaling $695,000 that were in or near Tucker's
district were removed, including money for a volunteer fire
department and a local redevelopment agency.
"I think they obviously must be aggravated with me about
something, although they haven't told me what, though I guess you
could assume it was on the budget," said Tucker, R-Terrytown, who
slammed the budget backed by Jindal as irresponsible.
McPherson lost dollars for a local museum, sickle cell anemia
services, cultural programs in Alexandria and a historic site in
his central Louisiana district.
Adley's add-ons for the military facility Camp Minden, a
portable generator for the city of Springhill, street and water
equipment for the town of Cullen, main street development programs
for Springhill and Minden and a police car for the town of Sarepta
Tucker, McPherson and Adley say they've added similar projects
to budget bills in previous years - and Jindal didn't veto them.
Other similar projects stayed in the budget this year.
"There are main street programs, police cars, generators all
over the place. I can only assume these cuts, the vetoes, were made
to punish me for my position on transparency, but I find it sad,"
said Adley, R-Benton.
Adley pushed a proposal to require Jindal's office to make
public and to preserve records connected to the Deepwater Horizon
oil spill. The governor vetoed the bill last week, saying it could
harm the state's position in seeking legal remedy for the
disaster's damage. Adley repeatedly criticized Jindal this session
for battling bills to open more governor's office records.
McPherson won passage of a measure to repeal a $15 price hike in
the cost of a Louisiana driver's license that was enacted by the
Jindal administration. The governor's office tried to kill
McPherson's bill as it wound through the Legislature, but Jindal
ended up signing the repeal.