Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget, once again, proposes to slash funds for higher education and healthcare services while increasing fees on college students, businesses, car owners, and on other state services..
The governor can raise fees on a multitude of state services without being accused of raising taxes, which he apparently feels would be detrimental to his presidential aspirations. He can do so without upsetting national anti-tax groups.
The situation caused one local legislator to say, “This session will be akin to serving time in Purgatory.” And before the session is over, some legislators may feel like they were standing at the gates of Hell, looking into eternity.
Legislators, many who switched to the Republican Party under Jindal’s rule, have been reluctant to challenge him in past sessions. Will this session be any different? Jindal is term-limited, so retribution for going against him is now somewhat limited, but not totally absent.
Under what many critics call an “absentee governor’s budget,” coming after years of severe cuts, closures loom for community health care clinics and historic sites and hospitals, some privatized under Jindal, would see a $142 million cut, and higher education, already reeling from years of cuts, would see the loss of another $211 million in funding, resulting in the shuttering of some academic programs.
The news resulted in some dark humor from F. King Alexander, the president and chancellor of Louisiana State University. He was quoted as saying, “Just to get people to wake up, we’re going to take the S out of the middle of LSU on the football helmets.”
Jindal’s proposal to roll back tax credits for businesses was not well received, either. Stephen Waguespack, head of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) said that doing such would stifle economic growth in the state and make Louisiana employers uncompetitive.
Also taking a hit will be the Louisiana State Police, to the tune of $157 million. State Police officials say the cuts will hurt the department and result will result in the loss of another 37 jobs, added to the 700 public safety jobs lost since Jindal took office.
In the midst of the morass, Democrats say they will push to expand Medicaid and get federal dollars. State Rep. John Bel Edwards, who is running for governor, told WAFB-TV, “There is a real sense of urgency now. Failure to address this problem is not an option.”
Does pandering pay?
For many months, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal has been pandering to the so-called conservative base of the Republican Party in an effort to bolster his dream of getting the GOP nomination for president in 2016.
But pandering does not always pay. He changed his stance on Common Core to please the Tea Party and other right-wing groups. He has refused to raise taxes to fill a $1.6 billion hole in the state budget, but raised fees instead on college students, businesses, and vehicle owners, plus others.
And he has neglected his duties as governor as he pranced around the country bragging about what he has done in Louisiana, which, by the way, is still first in just about every bad category and last in every good category.
So, how did he do at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) the mountain top of GOP conservatism, sponsored by the American Conservative Union, where he blasted President Obama for everything he could think of, including Obamacare and immigration and said Obama is not fit to be the Commander-in-Chief. He even echoed former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s ridiculous claim that Obama does not love America.
Well, he came in just about dead last in the straw poll, which is always taken at the end of the event. Of the 3,007 conservative activists who voted, Jindal received 0.9% of the vote, which was less that the 2% he received last year and the 3% he received two years ago. He did manage to finish ahead of Sarah Palin, the GOP’s vice presidential candidate in 2008, who had 0.8%.
For the third year in a row, Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul was the top vote-getter. But, as history has shown, CPAC favorites don’t always get the GOP nomination. Only three poll winners over the past 41 years received the presidential nomination.
Of the attendees, two-thirds were women and 47% were between the ages of 18 and 25, many of whom share Paul’s libertarian philosophy of less government.
In the poll, 41% favored legalization of marijuana for recreational use. They were also skeptical of military intervention and eager to undo Obamacare and his unilateral immigration moves.
Here is how the vote went with last year’s percentage of the vote in parentheses:
Rand Paul – 25.7% (31%)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – 21.4% (7%).
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz – 11.5% (11%).
Neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson – 11.4% (9%).
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush – 8.3% (N/A).
Former PA Sen. Rick Santorum – 4.3% (7%).
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio – 3.7% (6%).
Donald Trump – 3.5% (2%).
Businesswoman Carly Fiorina – 3% (N/A).
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry – 1.1% (3%).
Louisiana Gov. Bobby JindaL – 0.9% (2%).
Former V-P candidate. Sarah Palin – 0.8% (2%).
Another bad first
Louisiana has earned the dubious distinction of being the worst state in the country for doing business. The study was conducted by 24/7 Wall Street, a Delaware corporation which runs a financial news and opinion company.
To determine America’s best and worst states for doing business, 24/7 Wall Street identified nearly 50 measures that contribute to the business climate and reviewed those measures in the 50 states.
Those measure were broken down into eight major categories to determine the risks and benefits of doing business in a particular state.
Here’s what 24/7 Wall Street had to say about Louisiana:
“No state fared worse on 24/7 Wall Street’s business climate index than Louisiana. The state is not the worst place to run all businesses, however. The manufacturing sector accounted for more than 20% of Louisiana’s economic output in 2013, the fourth highest such contribution in the country. Despite the strong sector, Louisiana generally provides poor conditions for business.”
It went on to say: “Nearly one in five residents lived in poverty in 2013 – nearly the worst rate in the nation – contributing to both the low quality of the labor force as well as a low quality of life in the state. The working-age population was projected to decline by 3.2% from 2010 through 2020, one of the worst declines in the nation.
“While nearly 30% of Americans had at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, only 22.5% of Louisiana adults had at least such a degree, also nearly the lowest rate. Poor eduction contributed to poor scores in innovation. The state was one of only a handful of states where the average venture capital investment was less than $1 million.”
Five Worst States for Doing Business
2. West Virginia
Five Best States for Doing Business
4. South Dakota