Governor Bobby Jindal vetoes legislative pay raise

Published: Jun. 30, 2008 at 3:20 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2008 at 4:27 PM CDT
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By Caroline Moses

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Governor Jindal finally did it. He vetoed the proposed legislative pay raise. It's a move many of you have been begging him to make for months. So now that he's acted, will Governor Jindal face the legislative backlash he feared?

Governor Jindal hinted at his upcoming action Sunday night on CNN when he did not rule out a last minute veto of the pay raise bill, but it was still a shock to hear him say Monday that he vetoed the raises, after weeks of promising his top legislative leaders and others he would not. "They're an independent body. They know where we stand," he said.

Or do they? Weeks ago, Governor Jindal gave legislators his word he would stay out of their business when it came to giving themselves a 200% raise. "He had some concerns about the bill that we were able to talk about." He never outwardly approved of the bill by Senator Ann Duplessis of New Orleans. For nearly 12 weeks straight, Jindal repeatedly said he would leave the issue up to legislators. "Again, it's no surprise to us if we veto this, I'd be the most popular governor. I think it's pretty obvious, politically, expedient thing to do, but I think doing that stops reform of the state," Jindal said just last Tuesday.

Now, Governor Jindal is completely reversing that tune, saying the only way to continue reforms is to veto this bill. "I know some legislators may be upset that I broke my word to them to stay out of their business. I can't say I blame them for that. But I hope they direct their anger at me and not the people of Louisiana," he says.

So far, none of the legislators we talked with is openly angry with Governor Jindal. Barry Erwin with Council for a Better Louisiana predicted that if Jindal broke his word to them like this he'd face serious backlash in the future. "With all mistakes, you have a fundamental choice. You can either correct them or compound them, so today I am correcting my mistake," the governor says. A rally against the pay raise that was scheduled for July 7th is now canceled. Obviously, it's no longer needed. You can read all of the governor's comments below.

"I have opposed this pay raise at every turn and from the very beginning. A doubling of legislative pay is clearly excessive and it takes effect prior to the next election, which I believe is bad policy," Governor Jindal said. "This bill would also have set up a system to give legislators automatic pay raises in the future without additional legislative votes - which is a lack of accountability that we cannot accept."

The Governor had previously said he would not veto the pay raise to allow the legislature to conduct its own internal affairs. "I clearly made a mistake by telling the legislature that I would allow them to handle their own affairs," Jindal said. "As with all mistakes, you can either correct them or compound them - I am choosing to correct my mistake now.

"I have said that I was not going to stop legislators from more than doubling their own pay by vetoing this because I did not want to give them any excuse to slow down the momentum of our reform movement here in Louisiana. It turns out this is an unsustainable position. I have come to realize that the reforms I have been fighting for are simply incompatible with this legislative pay raise.

"I was trying to preserve our reform agenda and our momentum by tolerating this legislative pay raise that I knew was completely excessive. But the two cannot coexist.

"The bottom line is that allowing this excessive legislative pay raise to become law would so significantly undercut our reform agenda, and so significantly diminish the people's confidence in their own government, that I cannot let it become law. So, I have vetoed the bill."

The Governor continued to say that, "The sideshow over massive legislative pay raises has already taken up far too much time. It's time to get back to doing the people's business. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done in our state...there are roads to build, jobs to create, business to open, and kids to educate."

The Governor also called for legislators to direct any anger over the veto of the pay raise to him, and not the people of Louisiana by impeding future important reforms for the state. Jindal said, "I know that some of the legislators are going to be upset that I broke my word to them to stay out of their business. But I am asking them to take out their anger on me - not on the people of Louisiana."

The Governor concluded his remarks by calling on the public to continue their close involvement in government and the political process. The Governor said, "to all the citizens of Louisiana who have become so vocal on this issue and so involved in the process - stay involved. There is a lot more to do. Don't tune out or stop paying attention to the political process now. This government belongs to you; it is your business. I'm going to need your help."