Representative Katrina Jackson leads the caucus. She says under her plan, the funds from raising the tobacco tax would be dedicated. “It starts making the areas of higher education systems whole, and the area of health care as well,” Jackson said.
The caucus' efforts are symptomatic of a larger move within the legislature to shore-up higher education and healthcare.
The Fiscal Hawks want to reprioritize the budget and prevent the use of funds that aren’t available every year on expenses that occur annually. The group has routinely butted-heads with budget officials from the Jindal administration. But they’re a minority of around 35 in a 105 member house.
Cutting one-time funds won’t generate revenue. But Rep. Joel Robideaux, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, says the fiscal hawks plan will provide more stability. “It does make for budgeting that’s a little more realistic with what’s coming into the state," Robideaux said, "and then if that’s not going be enough to provide the services that the legislature feels need to be provided, then the revenue raising debates will be on the table.”
But Governor Jindal has said he won’t support any net tax increases.
Jackson said she isn’t concerned with whether the Governor is going to veto her package. “I think the public forgets that we have the last power in vetoing, the veto override,” and, Jackson points out, it takes the same supermajority to pass a tax increase as it does to override a veto.