11 lawmakers switch sides in failed veto vote
BATON ROUGE - Despite rallying cries by lawmakers, the state House voted to keep Gov. Bobby Jindal's veto of a cigarette tax extension in place.
That means the 4 cent tax per pack will expire next year. When combined with the loss of matching federal funds, that totals nearly $50 million less for health care.
Representatives Ernest Wooten (I-Belle Chase) and John Bel Edwards (D-Amite) asked their fellow lawmakers to continue to support the measure, since two-thirds of them voted to approve it.
"If you don't, the state loses as a matter of policy but this body loses as well because we will not functionally be a co-equal and independent branch of government," said Edwards.
However, 11 representatives that had approved of the tax extension instead voted to keep the veto in place. Three lawmakers that voted for the tax extension were also absent for the override vote.
Lawmakers had told News 2 Gov. Jindal's aides had been lobbying them to support the governor.
"I want to hope that there weren't any threats made. I also want to hope Santa Claus is real," said Wooten.
Rep. Tom McVea (R-Jackson) is one of the lawmakers who voted for the original bill, but didn't vote to override the governor.
"Even though I voted for it the first time, it wasn't going to affect the budget this year," McVea said.
In his veto memo, Jindal said he made a promise to oppose any new taxes and that the cigarette tax extension counted as one.
You can find a roll call of the vote by clicking here.