by Marion Marks
Bobby Jindal‘s scheme to sell the state’s remaining share of a massive tobacco settlement screams of Depression era family rationalization to let go of the last stick of family furniture. It’s an old-fashioned Dog-and-Pony Show, and despite criticism from every quarter, Jindal firmly defends his “Right” to auction off funds that have been set aside to guarantee future generations would benefit from the abuses the tobacco industry invoked on Louisiana citizens. Jindal’s rationalization would waste a last remaining asset for the addiction to fix to budget problem almost totally attributable to Jindal‘s political mismanagement.
The board that oversees the tobacco settlement has regretfully agreed to the concept that there may be acceptable legal ground for Jindal to sell off the fund, although several more approvals are needed before any sale can proceed. State Treasurer John Kennedy objected, saying Jindal’s plan is driven by Jindal desperation to find money for a budget that can only be characterized as awash in “red ink.”
Known as a Republican governor who has stuck to his pledge to disallow anything that could be described as taxes, Jindal and lawmakers under his control have refused to match the state’s spending to revenue. Legislators repeatedly give in to the governor’s demands that any hole in the budget could only be filled with short-term financing or money raised from state property sales, legal settlements and trust funds. Jindal’s administration gets credit for creating continued shortfalls, even in years when some windfalls have occurred. All action in Baton Rouge reinforce the Jindal legacy believe we will recount as “The Great Liquidator.”
John Kennedy, also a Republican, called the tobacco settlement plan essentially a continuation of Jindal logic. Governors traditionally pledge to protect and preserve the assets of the state, and historically our governors are known for programs, often in their own image, they build for citizens. Jindal will clearly be remembered as the governor who tore down, destroyed or sold off much that his predecessors built.
Jindal‘s one saving grace, in his own mind, is his respect from the Grover Norquist crowd, whose single demand is “No new taxes!” But Louisiana citizens will pay the price for Jindal’s poor management for many years. It will require many generations for Louisiana to recover from the damage to healthcare, education, tourism, the highway system, infrastructure and the spirit of those who have been beaten down as they spoke out against Jindal policies. Most citizens will see glimpse of hope with Jindal’s departure from the governor’s mansion, as he sells the last stick of family furniture.