If he posed so much as a remote threat against any of his Republican opponents for the Republican presidential nomination, today’s events would surely be used against him in an campaign ad blitz. But he doesn’t and they won’t.
On the one hand, there was the survey released Wednesday (Sept. 24) by 24/7 Wall Street, the service that publishes all sorts of survey results from the best-selling cars to the worst-performing state governments. The latest survey shows Louisiana to be the fifth worst-educated state in the nation.
On the other, there was the story, also on Wednesday, that said Louisiana’s public colleges and universities have been told to “be prudent” with their current budgets—a not-so veiled way of saying get ready for more budget cuts.
The U.S., in case you haven’t been paying attention, has some of the most expensive college educations in the world—and the expenses have risen to record highs, the survey said. In fact, the cost of a college education has increased faster than the rate of inflation—24 percent just since 2012,
Only 22.9 percent of adults in Louisiana hold at least a bachelor’s degree, which ranks 46th in the nation and well below the national average of more than 30 percent. That puts the state two notches behind Alabama’s 23.5 percent and ranked higher than only Kentucky (22.2 percent), Arkansas (21.4 percent), Mississippi (21.1 percent), and West Virginia (19.2 percent). Massachusetts had the highest with 41.2 percent of its adults having attained at least a bachelor’s degree.
In fact, Louisiana ranks just ahead of our next door neighbor in so many surveys that rumor has it there may be a bill introduced in the next legislative session to change the state’s motto from “Union, Justice and Confidence” to “Hey, At Least We Aren’t Mississippi.”
Louisiana had the fourth lowest percentage (83.6 percent) of high school graduates.
Louisiana also ranked seventh lowest with a median household income of $44,555 in 2014 and even those among the 22.9 had the seventh lowest median earnings ($46,903) for bachelor degree holders. Even more depressing is the fact that the median income for holders of bachelor’s degrees managed to pull the overall median average up by less than $2,500 per year.
Nearly one in five Louisianians live below the poverty line, the third highest poverty rate in the nation. This, in a state with three of the 10 busiest ports in the nation (including the busiest, the Port of South Louisiana, and the 4th and 10thbusiest, New Orleans and Baton Rouge) and three of the nation’s largest refineries (Marathon in Garyville, Exxon in Baton Rouge, and Citgo in Lake Charles).
Moreover, the state is embarrassingly rich in chemical plants, oil and gas reserves, sulfur, agriculture and seafood. But still we consistently lag behind the rest of the nation in every conceivable measure of progress and prosperity.
And yet, here we are, teetering at the edge of yet another midyear budget shortfall, or as State Treasurer John Kennedy said, “We have hit the trifecta, but not in a good way.” He was talking about the news that we have just learned that we’re going to have to make up for last fiscal year which ended June 30 with a deficit (though Bobby Jindal and Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols won’t say how much). Together, Kennedy said, the combined shortfalls for last fiscal year and the current year combine to paint a bleak picture for next year as well, as the combined deficit is expected to approach $1 billion.
(Note to Kristy: Don’t let the door hit you on the backside as you exit next month on the way to grab your golden parachute with Ochsner Health System.)
Though the Jindal administration isn’t saying much about the latest crisis (you have to wonder how Bobby will spin this in his fiscal responsibility message on the GOP presidential campaign trail), Kennedy at least doesn’t duck the issue. He estimates it to be more than $100 million.
This budgetary news comes on top of the Medicaid shortfall of more than $300 million, a TOPS fund which is projected to be $19 million short and word that Jindal’s ill-fated hospital privatization plan has hit yet another major setback.
LSU, citing a breach of the public purpose, terminated its cooperative endeavor agreement with the Biomedical Research Foundation of Northwest Louisiana (BRF) barely two years after the foundation took over operation of two north Louisiana hospitals.
Saying all avenues to resolve differences had been exhausted, LSU President F. King Alexander said that Academic Health of North Louisiana Hospital Management Co., Inc., will take over operation of University Health Shreveport and University Health Conway.
It was so bad for Jindal that he missed a golden opportunity when the Pope spoke to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.
When President Obama visited New Orleans on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina last month, Jindal sent a message asking that the President not talk about climate change when he came here. But when he had the opportunity to offer that same advice to Pope Francis, Jindal, a Roman Catholic, remained mute.
Perhaps he was just too busy traveling around Iowa telling anyone who would listen (that would be Timmy Teepell and Kyle Plotkin) what a great job he has done as governor of Louisiana and how he is uniquely qualified to run the country.
We are reminded of the Winston Churchill quote about Clement Atlee that could be adapted so easily to our governor: An empty taxi pulled up in front of the Iowa caucus and Bobby Jindal got out.