Budget Deal Reached, Final Vote Awaits
After lawmakers negotiated for days, Gov. Bobby Jindal was the first to call a press conference, at around 7 p.m. Wednesday, to announce the budget deal had been reached.
According to The Advocate, the conference was premature — many representatives had yet to talk to their delegations and the final papers had yet been signed.
Senator Jack Donahue, who has been shepherding the budget through the Senate, said Wednesday afternoon that the governor played no role in the negotiations.
"I think his staff knows what’s going on, but he hasn’t, they haven’t, inserted themselves into the process," Donahue said. "The bodies are operating independently of that, and the Governor is smart enough not to get involved in it."
The Advocate also reports that Jindal has agreed to sign a package of bills that would reform the budget process, aiming to make it more transparent and stable.
Rep. Cameron Henry, who represented the group pushing the package at the negotiating table, said he hasn't had contact with Jindal or his staff, who's Capitol office is on the fourth floor of the building, during the process.
"I personally haven't spoken with the fourth floor, I mean, all session," Henry said.
Rep. Joel Robideaux, who was close to the negotiations because several of his own money-generating bills were used as bargaining chips, said they didn’t need the governor to agree to sign the bills — lawmakers forced him to.
"The bills are tied to the funds bill. The governor doesn’t have line-item veto over the funds bill," Robideaux explained long after the Governor's announcement.
The funds bill is a technical instrument that essentially assigns money that’s in state coffers to where it needs to go. It has to be signed for the state to run. Negotiators added a line so that if the budget reform package goes down, that bill dies too.
The final vote on the budget must take place before 6 p.m. Thursday.