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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

PAY RAISE VETOED!!!

OUR VOICES WERE HEARD!!!

Gov. Jindal listened and has vetoed the pay raise! He realized he made a mistake and did the right thing and took steps to fix his mistake! Below is the recap from the advocate:

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Governor: Act will miff legislators
  • By MICHELLE MILLHOLLON
  • Advocate Capitol News Bureau
  • Published: Jul 1, 2008 - Page: 1A - UPDATED: 12:10 a.m.

Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed a legislative pay raise Monday in an abrupt reversal of his week-long stance that he would allow the salary increase to become law.

The governor acknowledged that the veto of the raise — a more than doubling of legislators' pay that was supposed to kick in today — means he is breaking his word to legislators. He said he expects them to be angry with him.

"I clearly made a mistake by telling the Legislature that I would allow them to handle their own internal affairs. … I am correcting my mistake," Jindal said during a news conference at the State Capitol.

The veto prompted organizers of a recall drive against Jindal to drop their efforts.

The pay raise legislation's author, state Sen. Ann Duplessis, said she plans to let the issue die with the veto.

Duplessis, D-New Orleans, said the people behind the public outcry are not in favor of any kind of raise.

"I will not continue to create this circus," Duplessis said. "There was outrage, but I think it was orchestrated outrage."

The pay raise was easily the most controversial measure to emerge from the legislative session that recently wrapped.

There was a tremendous public outcry against the raise, leading to recall efforts against Jindal as well as five legislators, including the House speaker and two Baton Rouge lawmakers. Protesters greeted Jindal in Shreveport last week.

From the moment the controversial measure hit his desk, Jindal blasted the raise as excessive. But he also was steadfast in his refusal to veto the measure.

He appeared to have a change of heart over the weekend, if not sooner, when the raise became interview fodder on national television.

Jindal told CNN Sunday that there was still time to stop the raise. He had until July 8 to veto the measure that generated the harshest criticism the governor has experienced in his six-month term.

Duplessis said the media confused people into thinking all legislators are wealthy.

"There were people who thought … 'They're greedy, greedy, greedy.' That's not the reality of it," she said.

Duplessis noted that Jindal wants to give his economic development secretary a $74,000 pay raise.

She said it is strange that the governor has not vetoed legislation that would raise the pay of public service commissioners.

A rally was scheduled for July 7 to protest the legislative pay raise. Organizer Stephen Sabludowsky said Monday after Jindal's veto that the protest is canceled.

Jindal and five state representatives were the target of recall petitions.

All five are Republicans who voted for the pay raise.

Jindal's veto put an end to at least one of those efforts.

The leader of House Speaker Jim Tucker's recall effort said he was dropping it.

"Our goal all along has been to stop the pay raise bill," said John Roberts of Gretna, organizer of the Tucker recall. "We feel like we have accomplished our goal and in all likelihood it is going to be stopped."

But an organizer against state Rep. Stephen Pugh of Ponchatoula said the Jindal action made no difference.

"Even though Bobby Jindal vetoed this bill, it still doesn't excuse the fact of what was done," said Danny Wallace of Ponchatoula, organizer of Pugh recall.

"I can't see backing up. What he (Pugh) did has nothing to do with the veto," Wallace added.

House Speaker Tucker, R-Terrytown, did not respond to three calls for comment. Tucker handled the pay raise bill in the House and gave an impassioned plea for it on the House floor.

In a prepared statement, Tucker said he is committed to working with the governor.

"I respect Governor Jindal's veto. … Our goal was to assure that citizens from all walks of life could afford public service," Tucker said.

Jindal refused to say whether the hue and cry caused him to change his mind.

"I realized this pay raise is inconsistent with a new Louisiana," he said.

Jindal said he informed Tucker and Senate President Joel Chaisson II, D-Destrehan, of the veto Monday morning.

Chaisson did not return a call for comment.

Brenda Hodge, spokeswoman for the state Senate, said Chaisson, who is a lawyer, was in court.

Jindal said he expects legislators to be unhappy that he nixed their bid to more than double their base pay.

Previously, in refusing to veto the pay raise, he cited concerns that lawmakers would unravel his initiatives.

Jindal said it became clear to him that the legislators' bid to raise their pay was inconsistent with his initiatives.

"They've got a right to be angry with me. I hope they take their anger out on me instead of the people," he said.

Jindal said any pay raise should take effect after the next election.

Senate Bill 672 by Duplessis would benefit the lawmakers currently in office by increasing their $16,800 annual base salary to $37,500. Legislative leaders — such as the speaker of the House and the president of the Senate —would get more money.

Legislators also get a $6,000 expense allowance and $143-a-day per diem payments for every day in session or committee.

The bill cleared the House with three votes more than the minimum needed for final approval.

Three legislators who voted for the pay raise later said they regretted backing the bill.

While the session still was ongoing, 13 House members and seven senators signed affidavits declining the raise.

The governor said he hopes the public remains interested in state government instead of tuning out now that the pay raise issue likely is over.

"To the citizens who've became so vocal on this issue, so involved in this process, I say thank you and I say stay involved," Jindal said."