Friday, 11 March 2011 18:50

Gov. Jindal Kicks Louisiana Budget Can Down Road

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Jeff CrouereGovernor Bobby Jindal unveiled an outline of his budget yesterday. It does not reflect radical surgery to our huge state government. Instead of real cuts in state payroll, Jindal calls for fewer than 2,000 state positions to be eliminated. In fact, the number of current state employees who will lose their jobs is quite small for most of the reductions will be focused on positions that are vacant through attrition, so genuine layoffs will not be necessary.

While Jindal does not call for tax increases, he does advocate giving colleges and universities the opportunity to raise tuition by 10 percent next year and into the future. As noted by watchdog C.B. Forgotston, this is a “tax” increase on the parents of college students who will have to absorb these extra costs.

Jindal balances the budget by identifying $225 million in so-called “funding efficiencies.” The problem is that the Governor does not identify any details about these savings. Worst of all, the budget includes $474 million in “one time money” for recurrent expenses. In previous years, Louisiana Governors have raided our “Rainy Day Fund” or used federal funds to balance our budget. Post-Katrina, federal dollars poured into Louisiana and in the Obama years, stimulus dollars were used to patch budget holes. This year, the federal gravy train has ended and the Governor plans to sell state assets like prisons to balance the state budget.

Jindal’s budget for next year totals $24.9 billion, which is a reduction of $1.1 billion from the current fiscal year. While Jindal is right to refuse tax increases, his budget cuts are woefully inadequate.

Our state continues to have too many employees per capita, too many colleges and universities, too many boards of higher education, and too many charity hospitals. Our real problem is that we have a big government mentality that has gripped our state since the days of Huey Long.

Jindal’s budget does not perform the radical surgery necessary to change our state government. The use of any one time dollars is clearly inappropriate as it reflects a desire to postpone the tough decisions to another time. Yet, the time is now to act. Other Governors are taking courageous action to deal with budget problems. We see real leadership in Wisconsin, New Jersey and Indiana. But, in Louisiana, we see more of the same.

It is a desire to minimize the political pain because elections are coming up this year and the Governor and his allies do not want to upset too many state employees or state dependents.

While he kicks the can down the road, the real problems in Louisiana remain untouched.

At some point, we will be forced to address our core problems. Our government is too big; our private sector is too small. We are still losing our children and productive citizens to other states with better opportunities.

Nothing in the Governor’s budget changes the underlying dynamic in Louisiana.. Therefore, we should expect more of the same, continued population loss, more businesses exiting Louisiana and a shrinking congressional delegation. In other words, “Laissez les bon temps rouler.”

Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at E-mail him at [email protected].


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