Heeeee’s Baaaaaack!

Bobby, we feared we hardly knew ye.

As you stood at the microphone during last week’s press conference, vowing to let the 123 percent pay hike state lawmakers had proposed go into effect, you seemed like a politician of the past.

It’s not uncommon in Louisiana to meet up with a governor who campaigns on one thing – say, demanding that pay raises for state Legislators not take effect until after elections, thereby giving the public a voice on who is deserving of an increase – only to back down or go in a different direction once elected to office.

No one is arguing that our state lawmakers do not deserve fair compensation for the work they do. After all, in the wake of the 2005 hurricane season, everyone in Baton Rouge has had to carefully rethink how Louisiana does business.

That was the promise that swept you, Gov. Jindal, into office by an overwhelming majority.

People are ready for change. They’ve embraced it. And now, they’ve demanded it.

You’ve heard the pleas and responded appropriately.

Now, let’s head back to the drawing board and create sensible legislation that fairly compensates the men and women elected to do the work of the people. We suggest rather than offering a blanket, high-dollar amount, state senators and representatives would do well to create a per diem package that reflects the hours spent in session – regular or special ones.

A costly 11th hour request proceeded by little, if any, discussion pushed through for a vote is not sound legislation. And it is especially insulting when, hours later, lawmakers tell the state’s real lawmen money is not available for a $900 pay bump … a figure that falls way short of the 123 percent they voted themselves.

This move had the potential to be a permanent black eye on the good work our Legislators have done since the beginning of 2008. We thank you, Gov. Jindal, for righting this wrong on the public’s behalf.