Trickle Down Buffoonery Pushes Louisiana to Edge of Bankruptcy
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s State Joins Kansas’s Race to the Bottom
It’s deja vu all over again in trickle down fantasy land, as Louisiana is poised to join the state of Kansas in the deep, grimy deficit hole.
It was reported that Louisiana’s deficit for the upcoming fiscal year will be up to $1.6 billion. The state’s unemployment rate stands at 6.7 percent, a point above the national average. Louisiana ranks dead last among states in both education and health care. Just last Friday, more than 100 state workers lost their jobs, as the governor desperately finds ways to deal with the budget shortfall. The recent drop in oil prices doesn’t begin to explain Louisiana’s predicament.
It certainly wasn’t supposed to be that way. When Jindal won the governorship in 2007, Louisiana enjoyed a $900 million surplus. The next year, Jindal and the state legislature passed an income tax cut for high earners that would cost the state $700 million per year.
Like other Republicans at the time, Jindal took “the pledge” conceived by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform to never, under any circumstances raise taxes. With the state up to its ears in red ink, perhaps Jindal has second thoughts about taking pledges. It will sure make it tougher to spin a success story in a 2016 presidential run.
The effects of the state’s budget problems are already being felt by Louisianans. Higher education and health care are already in line for cuts of up to $300 million for the 2016 fiscal year. In addition:
Fort Pike State Historical Site in New Orleans already has been closed, while the Plaquemine Lock and a Marksville Indian Mound will be closed within a month. The State Library will open only two days a week, the swimming pools won’t open and the hours at the parks will be curtailed.
To raise money, Gov. Jindal is relying on short-term, gimmicky budget fixes. These include “government property taxes, tax settlements, uninsured motorist fines and excess lottery funds.” Other revenue would come from financial settlements from hurricanes, raising tuition at state universities and privatizing the state’s public hospitals. This is called “one-time money.” According to State Rep. Brett Geymann, a Republican, Jindal “has been unwilling to make real structural state spending changes…instead he leans on short-term funding relief.”
Meanwhile, in Kansas…
Perhaps Kansas Governor Sam Brownback had his eyes opened by narrowly winning reelection in his deep red state by a margin of 50-46 percent. In his recent state-of-the-state address, Brownback pledged to solve Kansas’s budget nightmare…by employing the same kind of gimmicks as Jindal’s.
According to the Wichita Eagle, the governor would “nearly triple” the cigarette tax, raise taxes on alcohol (The “sin tax” is always useful) and walk back some of his severe income tax cuts. In addition, Brownback would “also divert funds for highway projects to general government programs and delay the elimination of a long-term funding gap in the pension system for teachers and government workers.”
The burning question remains: Where’s the economic growth from cutting taxes? Where is it?
Ain’t trickle down grand?
Subscriber James Lavelle responds:
I have always loved New Orleans, traveling through it since I was a child on our way from Pennsylvania (my home) to Texas (where my mother was from). I loved it for more than just Bourbon St. Although there was a period of time when that was my main focus. I lived there in Mid City for a year and my son has been there for about 10 years. But there are a few things I don’t love about it. Every politician, Democrat or Republican, is a crook and they are not even good at it. Everybody knows they are crooks but they pretty much tolerate it. Before Katrina and before the economy jumped off the cliff, New Orleans could afford the crooks but they can’t now.