Jindal bashes tax ideas - except for college students and state employees
Here we go. The Louisiana Legislature opened yesterday.
Jindal doesn’t want to raise taxes, and I’m OK with that to a point. What he wants to do instead:
The governor wants to resolve part of the problem by selling three state prisons and charging college students an additional $98 million on top of tuition increases
He also wants to sell off the $500 million reserve that the state’s Group Benefits agency has managed to accumulate from state employee premiums (NOT from general fund tax dollars) - I “paged” about that here. And there is further information that Prairiefire linked here.
So, “no new taxes!”.
Except on the state employee population, by taking the money they have paid for insurance coverage.
And except on college students (and their parents) by increasing tuition and charging additional fees.
Jindal’s rationale is:
“Tax increases kill jobs,” the governor said. “Tax increases kill opportunities. Tax increases hurt economic development. Tax increases hurt our ability to attract new businesses into Louisiana.”
Well. Won’t drastic increases in college costs ALSO kill opportunity, economic development, and our ability to attract new businesses into Louisiana?
The mantra for state employees is always, “Do MORE with LESS!”. Won’t the theft of the healthcare funds they’ve paid that have been set aside to provide said healthcare ALSO affect opportunity, economic development and our ability to attract new businesses, as the best and brightest will shun state jobs out of fear for their future?
Won’t selling the state prisons simply transfer from a state agency to a private entity the cost required to run the system? How does moving the cost from A to B “save” anything?
Here’s a sampling of responses from legislators on both sides of the aisle:
Legislators said they did not get the details they wanted on the governor’s budget proposals.
“The focus of the session is going to be on the budget. What I heard from the governor is a lot of focus on Washington,” said state Sen. Karen Peterson, D-New Orleans.
State Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, said the governor delivered “oddly familiar” remarks rather than rallying legislators around his proposals.
“If you’re going to give a locker room speech, it needs more enthusiasm,” Claitor said. “That wasn’t the locker room speech.”
State Sen. Lydia Jackson, D-Shreveport, characterized the governor’s speech as “total avoidance.”
“This was an opportunity to talk about the budget (and) communicate to citizens what to expect in reduction of services. None of that was mentioned,” she said.
House Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Terrytown, said the governor faces a tough task getting representatives to support proposals to sell prisons and to increase costs even further for college students.
“There’s a lot of work to be done on the budget. The revenue enhancements the governor’s proposed — I have some real concern about the body’s willingness to go along with them. We’re going to work with the administration on trying to get a balanced budget,” Tucker said.
State Rep. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, said she wanted substantive reasons for the proposals the governor is pushing. She said instead she got a rehash of his reliable road remarks.
It looks to me like Jindal is seriously going to have to get his act together. Jindal seemed like a promising young up-and-coming Republican - until he needed to have an actual idea and actually get something done.