BATON ROUGE, La. -- The announcement that Gov. Bobby Jindal will park his income/sales tax swap plan on opening day of the 2013 session of the Louisiana Legislature is a political bombshell.
“We've just had the opening kickoff and he started with a punt. He punted it to the legislature saying you run with the ball, let's see how good you can do with it,” said WWL-TV political analyst Clancy DuBos.
“I think it's a strategic retreat. It's not a loss,” He continued.
Jindal had been making his way around the state trying to gain support for his plan and according to campaign money.com, a campaign finance tracker, a 527 organization called "Believe in Louisiana" even spent hundreds of thousands of dollars creating and airing these TV ads around the state to try and drum up support for the tax swap.
The contact listed for Believe in Louisiana didn’t return our email seeking comment.
“This is one way for the governor to show that there's a constituency in favor of his efforts. Up until this point, his plan has been criticized by everyone,” said Ed Chervenak, a UNO political scientist.
It's the same group that raised funds and ran ads supporting Jindal's education reforms.
“He mentioned in his speech that his political hero is Ronald Reagan. And Reagan, of course, was known as the ‘Great Communicator’ because he would go around Congress all the time and appeal directly to voters, who would then write their Congress members and say do whatever the president says,” DuBos said.
Now Jindal has put the pressure on the legislature, experts say, trying to soften the blow to his plunging approval rating.
“There are some alternatives in the legislature. One idea is to phase in this tax swap over time, rather than just doing it all at once,” said Chervenak.
But with just 60 days in the session experts say it will make lawmakers hard-pressed to agree on such a major reform. Dubos also said the governor's move creates a political vacuum that lawmakers will now jockey to fill with their own tax plans.
He said the governor could attempt to come back midway through the session and re-introduce his plan if lawmakers fail to act.