The year was 1987, the race was for Governor, and the words spoken by one candidate were so enticing to us: “We’ve got to slay the dragon”. It was Buddy Roemer that caught our attention with that challenge based on fiscal reform. The media absolutely loved him, and voters longed for real change.
Roemer was a breath of fresh air. A candidate with lofty goals to take on our state’s bureaucracy by raising the bar for ethics and scrubbing the budget. We were so excited; it was the promise of a better day in Louisiana.
The legislature, however, had a different agenda. A majority of senators and representatives that kicked off Governor Roemer’s first session were, unfortunately, former Governor Edwin Edwards’ supporters. They blamed Roemer and his administration for not being good communicators. That was the least of Roemer’s challenges.
The Louisiana Association of Educators challenged Roemer’s plan for teacher’s performance-based reviews and pay based on merit. The Red Stick’s finance director, Lynn Schofield balked at tax reform that would affect municipalities. Jefferson Parish played a key role in defeating Roemer’s tax reform with some politicians spending their own campaign funds to lobby against reform.
No one was interested in tax reform. Why? Simple: Reform sounds good until it affects your parish’s pocketbook.
It’s almost mind boggling to walk down memory lane.
Fast forward to the 2007 election for Governor. The ‘whiz kid’, Bobby Jindal is running for office, and his words are eerily similar regarding making a clean break from the past. Once again, we are attempting to “slay the Dragons” by addressing workforce development, creating accountability, developing a modern health care system, better schools, stronger businesses – all through ethics reform.
Reform. Change for the better. Improvement. Better Methods. Courses of Action. Strong words, but difficult to achieve when resistance is so powerful. If we do not change our attitudes and take action, we are destined to repeat history.
Do we really want reform? Are we willing to pay the price it takes to make reform a reality?
There is some good news in the upcoming legislative session. Legislators have introduced bills that will give significant tax breaks. The people have spoken, and for the first time in awhile, the politicians have heard what we are saying and are acting accordingly. A brief description of bills filed by the House of Representatives can be viewed here, and Senate bills filed can be viewed here.
Still, there is great criticism of Jindal’s calendar of events. Jindal’s traveling is taking more hits than the news of actual bills filed that will affect each of us as citizens of our good state. Interesting.
I long for the day when I can read critical information on bills in The Advocate. Bills that we should be aware of as voters. I crave information about Jindal’s speech to the Red Stick Press Club, instead all I hear about is whether his legal counsel should step down because he is considering political office after the session.
I need to hear more about how we can “slay the dragons”, not the sensationalism our local media wants to spin. To find out what Jindal said at the Press Club, I had to do a search – not in the newspaper – but until I found his actual speech.
What I learned was that Jindal spoke of the current financial crisis, and how we are all being called to make cuts. So should the State of Louisiana. I also learned we have retained business, secured new business ventures, and created more than 22,000 jobs, and retained more than 11,500 jobs in Louisiana since Jindal was elected.
We have invested more dollars in Pennington Biomedical Research, and Barksdale Air Force Base. I learned that despite the horrific economic downturn, Louisiana has not only survived, but flourished. That we have retained some powerful businesses and had profitable major corporations open headquarters in our state over the past year.
Louisiana enjoyed a record year for the film industry. We have totally outperformed the U.S. economy and are a leader in the South.
Jindal plans to keep his promise of no new taxes. That in itself should have been yesterday’s headline in The Advocate! “Raising taxes is absolutely not an option”, were the Governor’s exact words. What a refreshing and encouraging headline that could have been.
Jindal’s list of cuts for specific agencies are all in his speech. A plan broken down, explaining how the budget crisis for the state will be addressed is there as well. Again, it can be read here.
How else would we have known that the Governor has a new education funding formula? Or that he is behind the Commission for Streamlining Government? (That legislation is mentioned in my previous post.)
How long have we joked about state government employees? If I hadn’t read his speech, I would not have been enlighted to the performance-based plan for state workers and compensation. It’s about time!
There’s so much more the media did not address. Jindal has a plan for more discipline in the classroom, extending research and development tax credits, DWI crackdowns, stronger laws for sex predators, work release program improvements, and tax amnesty for delinquent filers.
I did not vote for Bobby Jindal, but he is our Governor. His ideas and plans are moving forward. Are we willing to jump into the battle with him and “slay the dragons”?
Some say, “where is Bobby”? I say, “Bobby must be hard at work on the road…the road to a better Louisiana”. What if I’m right?
Until next time,
Red Stick Republican