Who do you think should manage Ferriday water?|
Story Archives: Prolonging the inevitable
- 2013 - 300 articles
- 2012 - 856 articles
- 2011 - 635 articles
- 2010 - 1276 articles
- 2009 - 1591 articles
- 2008 - 1763 articles
|Prolonging the inevitable|
Opposition to Gov. Bobby Jindal's kindness wasn't anticipated when he committed some $50 million in state funding for Foster Farms to buy and upgrade Pilgrim Pride's chicken processing plant in Farmerville.
Opposition to the Foster Farms deal, though, was exactly what we witnessed among some members of the Legislature, who questioned whether the state will yield a decent return on its $50-million investment -- an investment that clearly is intended to save some 1,600 direct and indirect jobs in a region of the state that's been hit hard economically as of late. Lawmakers also questioned whether the state's economic development fund -- commonly called the mega-fund -- was intended to aid a company's efforts to buy assets from a bankrupt enterprise like Pilgrim's Pride. They have a point, but it's a minor issue the Legislature can correct during its regular legislative session, which begins later this month. After all, when did state lawmakers become so concerned with the constitutionality of an action taken by a governor?
They got concerned when it became obvious Jindal was spending mega-fund money for economic development concerns, spoiling the Legislature's intent on raiding the $415-million mega fund to help offset an anticipated $1 billion-$2 billion budget shortfall in the 2009-2010 fiscal year. Lawmakers have their sights set on tapping the state's so-called "Rain Day" fund -- $775 million by last count -- to help out on the deficit front, too.
Momentum to look anywhere and everywhere for money to balance the 2009-2010 state budget picked up steam in the past couple of weeks as Jindal announced big-time cuts in all areas of the new fiscal year budget. The momentum reached a feverish pitch once word spread that higher education, health care, the arts and the like would undergo major cuts in funding amid an atmosphere of too little money to pay for so much government. Or is that too much government?
Remember, politicians do not like to be confronted by an angry constituent who may have read or heard the state was sitting on a boat load of money while plans are in the works to cut back or cut out a service or services a constituent expects his or her state to provide. An unfriendly exchange, indeed.
Explaining to a constituent that it's absolutely necessary for the state to have the ability and the means to put cold hard cash on the table to lure a new employer to Louisiana is far easier said than done. Explaining to a constituent that the state would be much better off in the long-term if we tackled our budgetary problems now in lieu of years to come is an impossible chore. It's akin to saying no to a child in a candy store.
Meanwhile, it's worth noting that thanks to President Obama and a Democratic-controlled Congress, Louisiana will enjoy an infusion of some $600 million-$700 million in federal funding over the next two years to help the state plod through its budgetary crisis. It's one-time money, meaning the state would do well not to budget it for ongoing expenses.
What happens when Obama's gift runs out?
Have state lawmakers given that any thought?
You can bet the farm they haven't thought past next week.
Thus, it goes without saying lawmakers won't be doing themselves any favors if they remain hell bent on raiding the mega fund or the "Rainy Day" fund to prop up the 2009-2010 budget. They simply would be prolonging what's necessary, meaning they would be putting off cutting the budget in earnest until next year and/or the year after that.
Yet, the folks who have a vested interest in seeing the state pump $50 million into the chicken deal in Union Parish should relax. State lawmakers will not undermine Jindal's commitment to Foster Farms.
Oh, they will gripe and whine and grandstand, but even a politician knows the state can never go back on its word when dealing with a company that's willing to employ Louisianians who desperately need work.
Instead, they probably will leave $50 million on the table for Foster Farms and take the rest of the money to plug a hole in a leaking ship of state.
Prolonging the inevitable comes to mind.
|Frank Morris Murder Series|