March 15, 2008


Jindal 'bats a thousand' at session
Private tuition break among bills to pass
(Ed Anderson
and Robert Travis Scott, 3/15/08,

The state Legislature on Friday wrapped up its second special session during the 2-month-old administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal by completing a full sweep of the governor's proposed package of business tax cuts and $1.1 billion in surplus spending priorities.

Jindal and his legislative allies won all the initiatives they set out to accomplish during the six-day session, including a controversial bill to grant a partial tax deduction for private school tuition.

Flanked by many members of his supporting team of lawmakers at an evening news conference, the governor framed the results as a positive statement on Louisiana's national image.

"This group should be proud of batting a thousand," Jindal said. "The country's watching us . . . we know they'll like what they see." [...]

House and Senate members struck a historic compromise Friday on a bill to create a state income tax deduction for 50 percent of the tuition paid for private school education, up to $5,000 per student. Home schooling parents also will get a deduction.

The deduction is a rare form of support for private school parents, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. [...]

The spending for the session included projects that Jindal targeted as keystones to long-term economic development programs. Those included $50 million for the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, money to help prepare for a so-called cyber-command center that the Air Force is considering in the Shreveport area and a major infusion of cash into several of the state's ports, including in New Orleans.

The Legislature acceded to the wishes of Jindal by breaking the state spending cap by $1 billion and allocating $1 billion in one-time new money to highway, port and hurricane protection needs.

Senators voted 39-0 for the $1 billion in new spending and voted 30-8 to authorize the spending by increasing the spending limit from $11 billion to $12 billion. The House unanimously went along with minor Senate changes in House Bill 46, the supplemental spending bill, by Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, and sent it to Jindal for his signature.

The $1 billion surplus is left over from a revenue surplus in 2006-07.

The spending plan calls for about $530 million for highway construction and repair; $300 million for levee work and coastal restoration that can be used to match federal dollars; $60 million to pay toward a potential $10 billion-plus shortfall in the state's retirement systems; and more than $24 million for the Port of New Orleans' expansion of the Napoleon Avenue container terminal.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 15, 2008 1:10 PM

Is Jindal even old enough, now, 4 or even 8 years?

I'm kinda joking.

Posted by: pchuck at March 15, 2008 2:30 PM

Sounds like Jindal actually is what some think Obama to be.

Posted by: Rick T. at March 15, 2008 4:52 PM