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BREAKING 11am 6-17-08 Hot Potato! State Legislators Pass Their Pay Raise: Jindal Won't Veto
Tuesday, Jun 17, 2008 9:00am

BATON ROUGE, LA  (By: Tom Pace, Executive Editor, Talk of the Town) BREAKING STATE POLITICS:  11am 6-17-08  It could be called "PayRaise-Gate."  Certainly, it's the biggest "Hot Potato" being tossed back and forth between the Governor and the Legislators in Baton Rouge this session. "To Veto or Not To Veto, That is the Question," for Gov. Jindal. 

At issue is the Louisiana Legislature voting themselves a huge pay-raise, and Governor Bobby Jindal sitting on his hands, not willing to veto the bill. 

The citizens of Louisiana are upset (and, justifiably so) because the legislators' salary increase goes into effect in just 2 weeks (on July 1st), meanwhile, the citizens of Louisiana will have to wait 'til 2010 to get their tax rebates from the repeal of the Stelly Bill. 

In a statement from his office yesterday, Governor Jindal said: "I'm very sorry to see the legislature do this. More than doubling legislative pay is not reasonable, and the public has been very clear on that. 

"I will keep my pledge to let them govern themselves and make their own decisions as a separate branch of government. I will not let anything, even this clearly excessive pay raise, stop us from moving Louisiana forward with a clear plan for reform."  

This is Tuesday's story from The Times newspaper, in Shreveport:

BATON ROUGE -- Gov. Bobby Jindal says he will not block a legislative pay raise approved Monday from becoming law. 

With a 20-18 vote, senators agreed with a House-passed amendment that reduced SB672 from a $50,700 base salary to $37,500 -- up from the current $16,800 base.

On top of that, lawmakers receive an automatic $6,000 for expenses and $500 a month for office expenses if they provide receipts. The also receive $143 a day for attending legislative sessions and any type of government-related meeting. 

Before the 20-18 vote, Sens. Gerald Long, R-Natchitoches, and Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, urged senators to reject the proposal.

"This would not be an appropriate time" to approve the raise, Long said. "I have heard from my people. Due to the large amount of opposition of our constituents, I ask you not to concur" with the House changes.

Refusing to concur would have sent the bill to a conference committee where a lesser amount could have been inserted or the bill could have been killed, he said.

"People feel that they have not been heard," Cassidy said. "We have done a lot of good things" but people will only remember the pay raise.

After the vote, which supplied only the minimum support for passing legislation, Long said it was "an easy vote" to oppose the bill.

"The timing was bad with gas selling at $4 a gallon and north Louisiana economically depressed, particularly the timber business. I don't feel it reflected the values of our people."

Also, he said, "I don't think pay raises should be voted on by people benefiting from them."

The raise goes into effect July 1 unless lawmakers opt out by submitting an affidavit stating they don't want it.





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