This was not supposed to be the reality for the former boy genius. Several years ago, Bobby Jindal was the rising star in Louisiana and national politics. In 2007, he was elected Governor amidst great expectations. The people of Louisiana had suffered through the administrations of Edwin Edwards, Mike Foster and Kathleen Blanco and were longing for energetic, reform oriented leadership. Unfortunately, Jindal delivered very little of substance along with plenty of disappointment.
His major achievement of ethics reform has been derided by critics who note that the executive branch is exempted. While he has been a good manager of state government during hurricanes, oil spills and river flooding, he has often left the state on personal business. His legendary travel schedule has become fodder for his political opponents, who note that the Governor’s security costs must be paid by state taxpayers even when he travels to sell books, fundraise or campaign.
All of his fundraising efforts have resulted in a massive war chest of $10 million for Jindal. This hefty cash balance has not scared away his first officially declared opponent, Claiborne Parish school teacher Tara Hollis, who is a conservative Democrat.
Today, in an interview on the Ringside radio program (M-F, 7-11 a.m. WGSO 990 AM), Ms. Hollis noted that Jindal’s stewardship of the economy has been a disaster. It is hard to argue with Hollis after examining Jindal’s record. When the Governor took office in 2008, the state unemployment rate was 3.8 percent, but today it is 8.1 percent. In his tenure as Governor, Louisiana has lost 169,000 jobs, even though he promised to recruit new jobs and industry to the state. His economic development efforts have been mostly failures, and major facilities like Avondale shipyard and Michoud assembly plant have shed thousands of jobs. He inherited a budget surplus of $1 billion, but today the state faces a $1.6 billion deficit.
The hallmark of his administration has been massive turnover of top positions. It is no wonder that key administrative leaders have grown tired of working for an absentee Governor.
In summation, his administration has been a failure. Whether it was caused by his distracting pursuit of national politics, poor relations with legislators, or misguided policies, the Governor does not have a great record to present to the voters this fall.
Now, he faces at least one opponent who will give Louisiana voters a choice. Hopefully, more candidates will emerge to debate Governor Jindal on the important issues facing our state. Our coast is still eroding; our schools are still poor, our roads crumbling, and crime remains too high. Real fiscal and budget reform has not even been attempted. Louisiana still has too many state employees per capita and a government bureaucracy that is much too large.
While Jindal has tinkered around the edges, major reform initiatives are needed. Jindal does not want to be as aggressive as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker or New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Instead, he aspires to be like Mike Foster, another distracted Louisiana Governor with a mediocre record of success.
Foster was distracted by motorcycles, helicopters, law school, hunting and fishing. Jindal is distracted by a desire for national fame and glory. In both cases, the real losers have been the people of Louisiana.
Watch Jeff Crouere and Publisher Stephen Sabludowsky discuss the political issues Tonight Friday June 10 on WLAE at 7:30 PM
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