Coverage by Louisiana media outlets report that the current Legislative session is akin to a Battle Royale over the state’s troubled budget. Like ancient gladiators, the media is in their own battle, vying for audiences by reporting every single move made by the Jindal administration.
The problem with this style of journalism is that it flys in the face of what readers really wants to know.
The public needs to understand why Jindal is being targeted for a budget crisis that reaches back far beyond his inauguration as governor of our state. Voters are smart enough to know that the financial crisis we are facing didn’t happen overnight.
In fact, the ‘get out of jail’ cards issued to Blanco, Foster and Edwards by this same media are mind boggling at best, not to mention the legislators who have spent our tax dollars for years like money was growing on trees around the state capitol.
It’s about as humorous as the comparison of former Governor Mike Foster being allowed to be a part time elected official while attending law school vs Governor Bobby Jindal being criticized for traveling around the country for political reasons. Oh well, I digress.
Perhaps we are paying for the ‘sins of our fathers’? Forefathers in state government, that is.
It began with Governor Huey P. Long, and continues today. A spendthrift mentality. A chicken in every pot. Textbooks funded by the state. Let the government pay our way. Just write another check. Add another budget line item. Conceal an amendment, if you will. We’ll worry about the consequences later!
Everything we do has an effect on everything else. This is not rocket science. It’s the law of reaping and sowing.
In our personal life, we have a budget. We receive income and learn to live within our means. If we do not live within our means, eventually the debt and interest catches up with us.
Why do we continue to believe government can be run any different?
In 1987, Roemer came into the governor’s office with $5.2 billion in state debt, and a $1 million daily deficit. He fought for reform, but legislators stopped him from the onset, claiming they didn’t like his administration’s attitude. Boohoo!
Fast forward to 1992 when Edwards was headed back to the helm of state government with a $500 million gap between revenue and spending. The legislators loved working with Edwin W. Edwards. That path led straight to federal prison.
It’s as plain on the nose on our face. We have been increasing state government spending annually, loading up on debt (and interest) and then going back to the trough to see who will throw us more feed.
If we do not learn from our mistakes, history is sure to repeat itself.
By 2005, the state debt reached $24.8 billion, according to AARP. Five times the debt Roemer tried to deal with in the 1980’s. Do the math. I could not locate more current information on Louisiana’s debt, but I am confident it has increased drastically.
For decades, we have watched the legislature fight over budget deficits. From each session, lawmakers have proposed the ‘answer to our prayers’ to become debt free or meet our annual obligations.
The list is long. The Louisiana Lottery. A land-based casino. Video poker. Riverboat casinos. Tobacco settlement. The Stelly Plan. Business taxes. Individual taxes. Sales taxes. Bed taxes. Sin taxes. Federal stimulus money. Homestead exemption tax increases. All touted as answers to our state’s financial dilemma. Yet, here we are . . . again!
On the other hand, legislators and special interest groups fight fearlessly for earmarks each fiscal session.
Universities fight for education funding. Pennington fights for research funding. Teachers, firefighters, and law enforcement fight for pay raises. City government fights for economic development and infrastructure funding. LSU Health Care fights for charity hospital and clinic funding. DOTD fights for highway funding. Another endless list.
Republican or democrat. Senator or Representative. Elected official or voter. State budget or personal budget. There really is only one solution. Cutbacks!
Robert Penn Warren said All the Kings Men was not intended to be a book about politics. Neither was the budget of the state of Louisiana. Nevertheless, both are purely political. For the state budget, that must change.
The quicker we remove politics from our state budget, and run it like a business or household, the better off we will be. Otherwise, we will continue to allow state spending to embrace political corruption and grow our enormous political machine.
To Senator Lydia Jackson, Democrat from Shreveport, who says to the press that “No is not a solution” (referring to Jindal saying no to spending), I offer the opposite: NO IS THE SOLUTION! No is not a popular word in the world of politics, but one we need to be willing to stand up and shout from the rooftops. NO! NO! NO to more spending!
Until next time,
Red Stick Republican