A little less than a year ago, I spent time comprising blog posts and newspaper opinion pieces promoting Bobby Jindal as the best gubernatorial candidate for Louisiana. Of all the 2007 candidates, I, and much of the state, believed he was the one to help turn our state around and lead a new legislature to defeat the old time politics that has plagued Louisiana for decades.Boy was I wrong, at least the last couple of weeks look that way.
Two weeks ago, on June 11, our State Senate voted 20-16, with absolutely zero debate, to triple their annual salary and increase their expense allowance, Senate Bill 672. Public outcry was rampant across the state, especially in the Lafayette area, which is mostly republican, as their own guy, Sen. Mike Michot (R-Lafayette), the most powerful Republican in the Senate, was one of the 20 YEA votes.
Not only that, but Michot continued with his disregard for area citizens by releasing an arrogant letter explaining why we, the voters, are too ignorant to understand. Of course, Michot showed his true character last year when he forced then-State Representative Ernie Alexander (R-Lafayette), one of the few honest, good-character legislators, out of re-election so his frat buddy, Page Cortez, also a Republican, could land a seat in the legislature.Senator Michot then hid behind his PAC, Leadership for Louisiana, to attack Cortez’s Republican opponent, the late Patrick LeBlanc, in what turned into possibly the most negative campaign in Louisiana last year.Then on Friday the 13th, June 13, our House of Representatives voted 56-45 to pass an amended SB 672, which doubled, rather than tripled, their salary, and made the pay raise effective as of July 1, 2008. Right before that vote, Jindal-picked House Speaker, Jim Tucker (R-Terrytown), whined about “extremist” voters who were opposed to such a large, immediate increase in legislative salaries, especially at a time where Louisiana still ranks towards the bottom in roads, education and economic development.
Voters across the state soon flooded Governor Jindal’s office with phone calls, e-mails, and faxes, requesting the Governor to take a stand and veto SB 672.
Unfortunately, Governor Jindal is opting to sit on the sidelines for this important battle, despite the campaign promise he made to voters just last year.
Those who supported and helped campaign for Bobby Jindal last year as our reform governor have every right to feel used. I sure as hell do.Topping it off yesterday, during a press conference in New Orleans, Bobby Jindal cemented himself as a typical talking-points, no-spine politician, and a far cry from the tough reform rhetoric that excited much of Louisiana’s voters a year ago.Again, I feel used.
Our state legislators have not received a pay raise since 1980, and gave two main reasons for such a large increase:
– The work in no longer a part-time job, but rather full time.
– The pay is not sufficient enough for ordinary citizens who don’t own their own business to be able to support their families should they elect to serve in the legislature.
My personal preference would be to eliminate their first complaint. Louisiana lawmakers should have regular sessions only once every two years, much like Texas. Less time these smug politicians spend in Baton Rouge making laws, the less damage they can continue to do to our state, while having no justification for increasing the current $16k per year salary.
However, that would take a change in the constitution and is not likely to become law any time soon.
As for the second point, if their TRUE motivation for pay increases is to allow more ordinary wage earners to serve, then they should have no problem making the pay raises effective after the 2011 elections.
These politicians who keep harping about the need for a pay raise knew the pay when they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars running for their seats, and demanding a raise only six months into the new legislative term proves them to simply be smug jerks.This is why Governor Jindal needs to stop allowing himself to be bullied by Jim Tucker & company and stick to his campaign promise to veto the hell out of any legislative pay raise that come into effect before the next legislative term.Bobby Jindal definitely has Presidential ambitions, but if he can’t even take a stand against an arrogant bill from our state legislature, he will never be able to stand up to MoveOn.org and Islamic terrorists.
Step up Governor, be the man you promised and veto this bill. Or else, you can certainly count never receiving my vote for anything again.
You promised us you were the man to turn Louisiana around, instead, you’ve been flirting with the national talk shows, all the while fighting against income tax cuts, while allowing your PR group to spin lies, and largely ignoring local media and constituents.
As for legislators like Mike Michot, Jim Tucker, and SB 672 author Ann Duplessis (D-New Orleans), hopefully these recent events mark the beginning of the end of their political careers and influence.