By MELINDA DESLATTE / Associated Press
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- The Republican vice chairman of the House's budget-writing committee was kicked off the panel Friday after repeated clashes with GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal over his budget decisions and questioning his claims of fiscal conservatism.
Jefferson Parish Rep. Cameron Henry said he was informed by House Speaker Chuck Kleckley that he was removed from his position on the Appropriations Committee. He said Kleckley told him he wanted to make some changes and offered no further explanation.
Henry said he believes he was ousted by Jindal's hand-picked House speaker because he disagreed with the governor over spending plans that used patchwork funding for ongoing programs and services and over recent, deep budget cuts to the LSU-run hospitals without legislative input.
He also supported a failed attempt to hold a special session to reverse the Jindal cuts.
"What I've been trying to do is hold the speaker and the administration responsible by asking them questions about their actions," Henry said. "They don't want people to ask tough questions. They don't want accountability."
Kleckley didn't immediately return a call Friday for comment. A spokeswoman for Jindal, Shannon Bates, said the governor's office didn't ask for Henry to be booted from the committee.
Henry's dismissal came a day after he sided with House opponents to Jindal's proposal to outsource a state government worker health care plan. The proposed contract remains stalled after the Jindal administration couldn't get enough votes for approval Thursday.