Legislators thinking for themselves: A revolt in Jindal’s ranks?

House Education Committee Chairman Steve Carter

House Education Committee Chairman Steve Carter

By Robert Mann

Tuesday’s Baton Rouge Advocate did not deliver good news to Gov. Bobby Jindal. Does he have a budding revolt on his hands? (In other states, this is known as “legislators thinking for themselves.”)

Does the small spark of independence we’re seeing portend a difficult legislative session for Jindal this spring?

Here’s why there may be some cause for concern (or celebration, depending on one’s point of view):

In a front-page story about the growing costs of the state’s TOPS program, Jindal’s handpicked House Education Committee chairman, Steve Carter, implies that nothing will change with the state-funded college tuition program until Jindal quits taking orders from the widow of late Louisiana oilman Patrick Taylor.

Here’s how reporter Koran Addo reports it:

Another problem is that TOPS, in its current form, has one very strong supporter in Phyllis M. Taylor, chairwoman of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, which supports issues ranging from educational projects to law enforcement causes throughout the state.

House Education Committee Chairman Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, said Gov. Bobby Jindal won’t support any changes to TOPS unless Phyllis Taylor agrees.

“Ms. Taylor has the ear of the governor,” Carter said, adding that the issue might get more traction when a new governor takes office in January 2016.

“We have to find a governor that prioritizes higher education,” Carter said. “The governor is the key … we have an opportunity as a group to make sure the candidates who run for governor list higher education as a top priority.”

If Jindal’s sorry history of not brooking dissent within his ranks is any guide, it’s likely that Carter will soon be known as the “former chair of House Education Committee.”

He may no longer have a committee to chair, but at least Rep. Carter has his self-respect back.

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5 thoughts on “Legislators thinking for themselves: A revolt in Jindal’s ranks?

  1. This has been a very long time coming.

  2. It is very interesting that Governor Jindal’s ostensible mentor, Governor Foster, enhanced higher education funding (at the prodding of chief of staff, Stephen Perry) more than any governor in recent times. The fact he did so makes the funding levels supported by Governor Jindal look even more inadequate than they might have otherwise.

    But, let’s not lose sight of the elephant in the room: The legislature appropriates, not the governor. This legislature has yielded this, it’s greatest power, to this governor more than any in recent times. Mr. Carter’s comments sound less like a courageous move toward independence than a hope for a new governor legislators don’t fear quite so much.

  3. I see this comment quoted here: “But any changes to TOPS have to be phased in gradually, so as not to hurt current college students or high school students on the verge of going to college, Kleckley added.”

    Why does this have to be? The students already in the colleges & universities have been hit over and over with tuition hikes that have hurt them. What’s different about the kids that may become eligible for TOPS? If they’re in high school & making good grades, fine – they may qualify. Do they have to have the carrot of TOPS in order to keep a measly 2.5 GPA?

    And has the Taylor family been lobbying all these years for the reduced standards? Their money may have funded some of the first recipients of the program, but it’s now the legislature, so why should they have much to say about it?

  4. it’s likely that Carter will soon be known as the “former chair of House Education Committee.”

    You mean he might get Teague’d?

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