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Story Archives: Jindal's $5 billion gift courtesy of Obama
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|Jindal's $5 billion gift courtesy of Obama|
Rep. Jim Fannin recently said he was leery of the Legislature's decision last year to embrace spending some $1 billion above and beyond what the Legislature spent the year before.
The roughly $1 billion in which Fannin referenced existed because of budget surpluses from year's past and because of increased tax collections thanks to a red-hot oil and gas industry and the like.
According to Fannin, he felt the Legislature should have thought long-term, or should have considered the possibility that the good times on the budgetary front would not roll on forever. In other words, the Legislature would have done well to remember the budget fiascos of the 1980s and early 1990s when state lawmakers -- at the urging of then-Govs. Edwin Edwards and Buddy Roemer -- raised taxes and cut spending to balance budgets. It was an ugly scene, which led to the demise of a host of political careers.
For some reason Fannin's concern for the Legislature's decision to spend an additional $1 billion -- give or take -- in 2008 doesn't ring a bell. At least I can't recall the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee expressing any concern last year for the Legislature throwing around $1 billion as if it grew on trees. After all, if the state still possessed the $1 billion in question, decisions concerning how Louisiana would deal with a projected $2-billion budget shortfall for the 2009-10 fiscal year would be far easier to come by. Furthermore, if that $1 billion had not been spent last year, chances are Gov. Bobby Jindal would have been spared the unwelcome chore of having to cut some $341 million from the current fiscal year budget, which he recently did since the state constitution says Louisiana must operate under a balanced budget.
Speaking hypothetically is neither here nor there, though. It accomplishes absolutely nothing either for us to criticize the Legislature and the governor for decisions they made some seven to eight months ago. We merely can reflect upon them.
The fact remains the Legislature spent more money than it should have in 2008. The fact remains as well the Legislature is staring at a fat hole in the new fiscal year budget, which begins July 1.
Or is the Legislature facing a budgetary crisis?
That question should be entertained in light of the movement on Capitol Hill where the Congress is contemplating (if you want to call it that) an $800-$900 billion economic stimulus package. Before it's over with, you can bet the farm the boondoggle Congress is considering at the request of President Barack Hussein Obama will top off at roughly $1 trillion. If you're going to spend $800 billion or $900 billion, what's another $100 billion? Pocket change.
The upside (if you want to call it that) to the economic stimulus bill is it will deliver boat loads of money to states, including some $5 billion for Louisiana. Louisiana, like most states across the nation, is experiencing a tough time budgetary-wise.
Don't fret. Santa Obama and some of his little elves in the Congress are on the way to rescue the states, for the notion that states should curtail services for the people for the sake of a balanced budget would mirror blasphemy. Fathom the thought.
Yet, Obama's idea, or plan, to get the national economy moving again represents a golden parachute for Jindal and state lawmakers, who have been busy as of late warning the field hands (the people) that dire cuts in state services are forthcoming.
Think about it.
What could Jindal and the Legislature do with a $5-billion gift courtesy of Obama and a Democratic-controlled Congress? For all practical purposes, any budgetary problems Louisiana will face in the coming months would disappear.
And Jindal, a potential Republican candidate for president in 2012, would be forced to acknowledge that Obama and a Democratic-controlled Congress saved the young governor and the Legislature from having to make some very difficult decisions.
Or saved their political hides for now.
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