- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Louisiana House passed its first bill of the special legislative session Thursday, aimed squarely at former Gov. Bobby Jindal and repudiating his budgeting practices.

Lawmakers voted 95-0 to scrap a heavily criticized tax credit, known as SAVE, that Jindal pushed to protect his anti-tax record as he readied for his failed presidential campaign.

The credit didn’t raise new money or cut anyone’s taxes. But it gave Jindal the ability to claim an offset against other tax hikes used to drum up money for this year’s budget, so he could say he didn’t support any net tax increases.

Republican Rep. Chris Broadwater, of Hammond, urged his colleagues last year to vote for the tax credit maneuver to spare higher education from budget cuts. He also sponsored the legislation to repeal the credit Thursday now that Jindal is out of office.

“The SAVE Act was everything that you heard it was. It was accounting gimmicks,” Broadwater said. It was “a credit that no one received, that no one paid, that did not benefit anyone.”

But as he asked to jettison the tax credit, Broadwater also defended its results. He said it helped to protect public colleges from deep cuts by giving Jindal the cover he wanted to agree to other tax bills that raised money for the budget.

“It did in fact prevent the governor from vetoing the revenue measures,” Broadwater said. “It served its purpose, and now it should be repealed.”

Jindal, a Republican, closely guarded his record on a no-tax pledge he signed with an organization led by national anti-tax activist Grover Norquist. The close alliance with Norquist became a point of anger for lawmakers who felt boxed in by a pledge they didn’t sign.

As he urged repeal of SAVE, Broadwater held up a stuffed animal puppet of Grover, the Muppet.

The bill moves next to the Senate. Action in the House now centers on deciding on how to close a massive state budget gap and whether to raise taxes to help with that.

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House Bill 2: www.legis.la.gov


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