Monday, 15 February 2016 21:43

First Jindal, now Edwards, Stick a fork in Louisiana, we're done

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jindal waveby Ron Chapman

In Natchez this past weekend the local news announced a major economic expansion for Mississippi.   Governor Phil Bryant announced that Continental AG Corporation had determined to open a new tire plant west of Jackson, Mississippi.   The company would invest $1.4 BILLION in a facility that would employ 2,500 workers with high paying jobs. 

Perhaps most important was the response by the company’s CEO as to why he decided upon Mississippi.   He stated that his company was impressed with the strength of its community college system. After evaluating his options, he realized that Mississippi had a talented work force and possessed the educational infrastructure for the specialized training needed for his company to make a profit. 

The televised report included a tour of the local community college and its modern labs employing advanced robotics along with associated courses related to emerging industries.  Louisiana has failed to make similar investments. 

Governor Jindal left Louisiana with eight lost years.  During his stewardship nothing has been accomplished.  He cut existing taxes which placed strains on government income.   He then made up for his self-imposed budget short falls by destroying the higher educational system which is essential for economic development.  Worse, in eight years, he never carefully examined the budget, nor did he cut the political fat, waste, theft, and corruption. 

Furthermore, as governor with a compliant House and Senate, he failed to address the constitutionally protected expenditures that infect government.  A wise leader would have passed one constitutional amendment that would have nullified all those imposed budget protections. Jindal was not that leader. 

When Jindal looks back at his “legacy” he will find nothing but destruction.   As governor, he will not be missed. 

Education is the key to economic development.  Central to that is a vibrant and flexible higher education system.  You can offer any business vast amounts of money and tax incentives, but if your labor force lacks education, talent, training, and a work ethic, businesses will not come.  An educated workforce is the fertilizer for job growth.   Louisiana salted its fields under Jindal. 

We now have a new governor… and things are looking darker.   Governor John Bell Edwards is threatening to make even more draconian cuts. The mere mention of shutting down higher education, even if only as an ignorant threat to gain tax revenue, is dangerous. It’s like screaming “fire!” in a theater. It reinforces the message that Louisiana has no respect for education.  Governor Edwards makes it clear Louisiana proudly intends to remain unabashedly unprepared for the future.  Great message! 

He can’t claim ignorance about this situation. He has been in the legislature since 2008 and as House Minority Leader he had to know the situation.  Unless he is blind and incompetent, he had to be aware of the crisis the state faced.   When planning to run for governor he should have devised a plan to address the problems.   

The result of his recent threat to close colleges is that businesses will not even consider looking at Louisiana as a location for expansion, good students will go elsewhere for their education (especially if the lure of TOPS is gone), and talented faculty will abandon Louisiana colleges and universities for greener pastures elsewhere.   Restarting is not like turning the ignition in an automobile.  It will take a generation to undo the damage such a move will make.  Damage may have already been inflicted by merely mentioning such an absurd plan. 

Thus, Louisiana, one of the richest states in the union with massive reserves of natural resources, seafood industry, tourism, transportation, and heritage has elected yet another clueless governor who lacks the gonads to do what is right by the state and its citizens.  He is so committed to his political establishment that he will turn a blind eye to waste and corruption and focus instead on raising taxes to finance this overburdened behemoth we call state government and reward his political allies.  Perhaps keeping the population ignorant is a necessary component of his plan. 

I mistakenly voted for this man because I believed his rhetoric about a need to focus on education.  If he is reckless enough to propose such foolish solutions, I am reckless enough to respond by signing a recall petition. Why? Because his opening address to the residents of the good state of Louisiana affirmed his intent to go back to the old times of increasing taxes and wasteful spending with no plan to right the wrongs or secure our children’s future. 

There are solutions.   James Gill composed an article in September 2015 where he discussed State Treasurer John Kennedy’s solution: “Because our chronically out-of-whack state budget is the issue that dwarfs all others right now, and state Treasurer John Kennedy is the only major public official who has come up with specific plans to fix it, the obvious question is why isn’t he running for governor.

The answer is equally obvious: He is the only major public official who has come up with specific plans to fix it. Once he started talking turkey on the campaign trail, loud squawking would commence. There is no way to force revenues and expenditures into balance without leaving some powerful interests out of pocket, but spelling that out isn’t going to win an election.”

It is sad when the state Treasurer, John Kennedy, expresses a plan for saving the state fiscally by trimming waste only to have traditional old line Democratic and Republican politics get in the way.  Rather than embrace the Treasurer’s plan, Governor Edwards, like Jindal before him, has ignored it.  Sad! 

Stick a fork in Louisiana… it is done!



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