BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Some state lawmakers want to repeal a major element of last year's budget passed under former Governor Bobby Jindal.
They say the SAVE ACT is an example of the "smoke and mirrors" political mentality that over several years helped put the state in its worst fiscal crisis in decades.
The SAVE Act is a phantom higher education fee assessed to students, but no one actually pays for it. It was attached to the 2015-2016 budget to offset tax raises included in the $24 billion spending plan, according to Jindal.
Last session, critics called the SAVE Act everything under the sun from smoke and mirrors to a sham.
"I will swallow my pride. I will choose to be embarrassed," said Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, to House members on the final day of the 2015 session.
Broadwater voted reluctantly in support of SAVE to save higher education from drastic cuts. Eight months later, Broadwater and other lawmakers are vowing to get rid of it.
"We still have a crisis in higher education," said Broadwater to House committee members Tuesday.
"That's what I'm here for. In fact, we thought it was so bad we filed two bills to repeal it," said Rep. Rob Shadoin, R-Ruston.
Broadwater and Shadoin did not need to do much persuading Tuesday.
"It was a horrible piece of legislation," said Rep. Jim Morris, R-Oil City.
The committee of House members was so supportive, some even said they would put their names on the bill as co-authors.
Up until the final moments of last session, Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville, was also lobbying for SAVE votes. He said he would not have done anything different.
Like Broadwater, Donahue backed SAVE fearing a veto threat from Jindal.
But now, the senator said he is no SAVE supporter and would vote for repeal.
"I did what I had to do last year because I thought that was the right thing to do to protect higher education and healthcare," said Sen. Donahue. "But it's not necessary anymore and I'm not pushing it."
The repeal bill will next be heard on the House floor.