The opposition party isn't the only one giving Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal fits these days. It's his own GOP.


The opposition party isn't the only one giving Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal fits these days. It's his own GOP.

Conventional wisdom would have suggested Republican takeovers of both the House and Senate would have given Jindal an easier path for passage of his legislative agenda and spending recommendations.

But that was never to be, particularly in the House, where GOP leaders have ripped into the governor's budget proposals, helped stymie his plans to sell three state prisons and worked with Democrats to pass a cigarette tax renewal that Jindal is threatening to veto.

The governor's toughest battles are the spending ones, where Republican fiscal conservatives are suggesting the proposals offered by Jindal, who positions himself as a fiscal hawk, don't shrink government enough and rely too much on gimmicks.

To help deadlock some of the governor's legislative plans, Republicans have been joined by Democrats angered by Jindal's refusal to consider tax increases or the removal of tax breaks to lessen cuts.

Add in the implications of an election year, and the political scene was ripe for complications for Jindal.

Leading the disputes is Republican House Speaker Jim Tucker, who has suggested backhandedly that Jindal isn't nearly as much of a fiscal conservative as he claims.

Tucker and other House leaders successfully pushed to strip dollars Jindal included in his budget proposal that depend on other pieces of legislation to pass, including money from the sale of three prisons, from the increase in state worker retirement costs and from the diversion of a stream of tobacco settlement dollars to the state's free college tuition program.

The House Appropriations Committee removed $139 million from the nearly $25 billion budget proposal to eliminate those contingency items.

Tucker, R-Terrytown, also objected to Jindal's inclusion of hefty amounts of one-time money.

Joined with other Republicans and conservative Democrats, Tucker said the state shouldn't be using large amounts of one-time cash to pay for ongoing services and operating expenses because it just continues financial problems annually when those dollars disappear.

The House speaker said Louisiana must shrink state government spending, and he supported a new House restriction by Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, on the use of one-time money in the annual operating budget.

The move further complicated Jindal's efforts to get his budget proposals out of the House. The new hurdle means the House stripped out another $93 million of the one-time spending pot Jindal wanted to use.

Tucker fought to keep those limitations in place, helping scuttle attempts to get a two-thirds vote to use the extra one-time money.

"To suspend this rule eliminates any pretense that you can run as a fiscal conservative," Tucker told House members in a vehement speech that quieted the chamber. "This is THE vote. To expend more one-time money in budget than what is allowed for in the rule is not prudent."

"For fiscal conservatives, please stand up," he said, getting 87 other members of the House to side with him, both conservative Republicans and Democrats who realized the new restrictions give them a way to tweak the governor and give them more leverage in the budget debate.

So, as the 2011-12 budget headed to the Senate for debate, it contains $232 million less in state funding than Jindal wants. The governor says the cuts proposed by the House would devastate public safety, health care services and education programs.

Meanwhile, House Republicans joined Democrats in supporting renewal of a 4-cents- per-pack state cigarette tax that Jindal strongly opposes and has threatened to veto. Jindal calls it a tax increase, but some GOP lawmakers scoffed at the notion and suggested they didn't want to lower the tobacco tax.

"There is a huge difference between renewing a tax and passing a tax increase," said Rep. Joe Lopinto, R-Metairie. "If my constituents can't see the difference between that, I don't know that I want them voting for me."

So much for Republican alliances.

Like he did last year, the Jindal might find himself turning to Democrats to get his legislative plans and his budget recommendations passed.