Jindal takes heat for vetoes

August 5

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La., on Jindal takes heat for vetoes:

Doing the right thing, or at least arguably the right thing, Gov. Bobby Jindal took a black eye over line-item vetoes in the state budget. The added funds he cut would have helped the disabled and unfortunate in Louisiana.

Characteristically, Jindal responded to the criticism with a fact- and figure-filled letter to the editor about how many people are being served by programs such as at-home services for the developmentally disabled. The flashpoint was the line-item in the budget for $4 million that would have added 200 slots to a program that has a waiting list of about 10,000.

We think the governor is getting a bad rap, even if perhaps he could have worked his way around the problem and found $4 million.

The problem is that the Legislature, with a flourish of publicity, significantly changed the state budget originally proposed by Jindal. In the course of a contentious session, a budget was produced that the governor could live with, but it had some gaps in it.

Jindal has the responsibility by line-item vetoes to ensure a balanced budget.

The genesis of these vetoes was in the Legislature, which left the budget with what the governor called a $46 million hole in it. The governor was directed to find cuts in social services, and it’s not unreasonable to expect — as some savvier legislators might have anticipated — that he would cut program expansions with line-item vetoes.

While advocates for the disabled and critics of the governor — Democrats and Republicans — in the state House pushed for a veto session to reconsider the Jindal cuts, the Senate voted to block a veto session.

That does not mean, however, that the issue will go away, nor should it. Advocates for the disabled will continue to press lawmakers and the governor to do more for families that need help.

The programs that enable people to live more independent lives are important and this fracas next year might encourage the folks in the capitol to get together on more funding. A budget process that focuses on really getting to a balanced budget, instead of one with holes in it, would help the cause, we think.



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