House-Senate Rift Continues
Both the House and Senate worked over the weekend. Yet even Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield – the governor’s point man on tax increases and tax offsets -- notes the two chambers do not appear to be working together.
The rift centers on the SAVE plan, creating a college fee that students won’t pay, offset by tax credits paid to higher education. After House Ways and Means killed the bill last week, its author, Senate Finance chair Jack Donahue, resurrected it. He did so by amending the language from his SB 284 onto three other tax bills, each authored by House Ways and Means chairman JoelRobideaux.
When those bills came up on the Senate floor, Ville Platte’s Eric LaFleur offered an amendment. Noting that “S-A-V-E” stands for “Student Assessment for a Valuable Education”, LaFleur proposed changing the acronym to “D-U-M-B”.
“It will substitute ‘Don’t Understand Meaning of Bill’, or ’DUMB’,” LaFleur explained, prompting laughter from his fellow senators, and even a chuckle or two from Senate President John Alario. “All it does is describe the bill for what it is—dumb. I’m just trying to be as candid as we can with the public.”
Senator Donahue was not amused, stalking to the lectern to deliver a scolding to LaFleur.
“I don’t appreciate you, and I don’t appreciate this amendment. I’m insulted by it,” a clearly angry Donahue faced LaFleur. “I’m doing the best I can for this Senate, and this makes a mockery of what we’re doing!”
Lafleur withdrew the amendment, but not until he had delivered a scolding of his own to the entire Senate.
“We come here today and we say we’re going to try to trick the public one more time. You know what the perception of this body and this legislature is? It’s that we play games!” LaFleur remonstrated, urging his fellows to go home and try to explain how the SAVE plan makes any sense. He then said the people won’t buy it.
“They’re going to look at you and say you know what? You have failed us once again.”
The Senate passed all three bills with the SAVE plan attached. And over in the House, members like Baton Rouge Rep. Ted James are still shaking their heads.
“The folks on the Senate side are working so hard to go around the process,” James said. “They could have saved a lot of time by just doing the right thing and following the House’s lead.”
Time is short. Just four days remain before the Legislature must adjourn, with or without agreement on taxes, offsets, and a budget.
Copyright 2015 WRKF