Below are the questions and Pinsonat's written responses:
Governor Bobby Jindal has made news recently by actions in which he is being called vindictive. Legislators who did not vote his way have been punished. A long-time cabinet official Cynthia Bridges has resigned, some believe, forced out of office. Is what Jindal is doing any different from prior Louisiana Governors in punishing and awarding supporters?
Governor Jindal is very proactive when it comes to removing cabinet officials and obviously playing a role in removing legislators from positions of leadership within the legislature. Governor Edwin Edwards tended to ignore legislative rebellion and got most of what he wanted without stripping chairmanships from legislators. This was just not his style. He was also very popular with most legislators – even those who opposed him liked him personally. It was one of the main reasons he was able to be elected four different times. I am not saying Edwards never retaliated, but that was not his style. Mike Foster went out of his way to maintain good relationships with all legislators. He did remove one or two members of his administration and of course the speaker of the house – but he spent lots of time giving personal attention to those who opposed his legislation. If you had a problem (legislators, reporters and citizens who wrote nasty letters to editors) with Governor Foster, you would get an invite to lunch in the mansion. Governor Kathleen Blanco also yanked one or two legislators from leadership positions. Remember the Queen Bee lapel pins? Governor Jindal is not alone, but he has to be the most prolific modern governor when it comes to punishing legislators, elected officials and even his own cabinet officials for acts of independence, obstruction and screw ups. To say the very least Governor Jindal is not on good terms with most statewide elected officials and, of course, add to that list US Senator David Vitter. Most elected officials cannot avoid making a few enemies, but they absolutely avoid making lots of enemies. Governor Jindal seems not to care about how many and who they are.
There are calls for budget reform which includes getting rid of certain tax credits and incentives that some legislators and others believe are causing havoc with our revenues. There is approximately 6 to 7 billion dollars that the state loses in revenues due to the credits each year, however, without them certain industries such as the Digital Media and the film industries would hardly be in existence in the state. Any likelihood the legislature and administration under Governor Jindal will eliminate billions of dollars in these tax exemptions, deductions and credits? If so, which do you think might be on the chopping block?
The chairman of the senate finance committee, Jack Donahue announced his committee is going to look at all tax exemptions and hopefully end enough of these exemptions to produce additional revenues to offset Louisiana’s sagging revenues. On the surface this sounds like a great idea – the exception, of course, are the recipients of these tax exemptions. This has been tried before and not much has ever come from this effort. Every lobbyist at the state capitol was thrilled with this news – most will be hired to protect each and every exemption. Lots of these exemptions appear hard to justify. As you peel away the layers, you will find most of these exemptions have constituencies, jobs and or businesses, which will fight any attempt to increase their taxes. My problem with Donahue’s approach – we have the most inefficient and costly higher education system in the country. Louisiana has one the most expensive archaic health care delivery systems in the country – it is known as the charity hospital system. Anyone with a semblance of a brain realizes LSU needs to dump the charity system back into DHH. What incentive does the charity have to operate efficiently? None!
The problem with looking for savings in these two areas – the legislature does not have the stomach or will to reform either system. So let’s go after businesses and increase their taxes. Good luck trying to pass these tax increases in the house of representative after the senate refused to go along with the budget cuts the house sent to the senate! Good luck with getting LABI to go along with increasing taxes on their members. Good luck in your reelection campaign three years from now. You voted for a tax. Campaign contributions from the business community to republican candidates resulted in a republican majority in both chambers in the legislature. In an effort to thank the business community for all their support, republicans in the legislature will attempt to raise taxes on these same businesses. You can expect the business community to raise hell with any republican who supports this effort. What is that saying: no good deed goes unpunished! Every statewide survey always shows similar results – the vast majority of Louisiana voters (especially republicans) believe state government does not have a revenue problem - they believe the state has a spending problem!