BATON ROUGE - Not once in modern history has a Louisiana governor vetoed the budget, but that might happen if lawmakers aren't willing to play ball. Governor Bobby Jindal has said he's willing to veto the budget if lawmakers don't give him the tax breaks he wants to offset the tax increases approved by lawmakers earlier in the session.
The tax increases will save state colleges and hospitals from devastating cuts. Now all that's left are the tax breaks which will let Governor Jindal claim he's not raising taxes.
It's all coming down to a bill called the SAVE tax credit, which ostensibly affects higher education. Opponents say it doesn't benefit students or parents because the tax credit only applies to a new fee raised by the same piece of legilsation, but it does give the governor the ability to say he didn't raise taxes.
Lawmakers are sharply divided on the SAVE act. The Senate is willing to go along with the bill, but a House committee did not approve it earlier this week.
If the governor does veto the budget, then lawmakers could return to the Capitol as late as July 21 for a veto session.
"I know just on the House side that there's 80 members who are committed to come back if the governor vetoes the budget," said Representative Ted James (D-Baton Rouge).
Political analysts say that could cause big problems, though.
"That's more than three weeks into the new fiscal year," said Jeremy Alford with LaPolitics.com, "that's three weeks without money. You're talking about the feeding of inmates, access to health care, higher education, all without money for the first three weeks of the new fiscal year."
Capitol insiders say a veto session is unlikely and claim both the legislative leadership and the governor's office is working hard behind the scenes to pressure lawmakers to pass a budget the governor will sign.