The clock is ticking and Louisiana’s forecast is dark and cloudy.
As the deadline to qualify for statewide office begins, there has not been one well-financed Democrat to challenge Bobby Jindal for the position of Governor, according to an article by the Times-Picayune. The only announced Democratic challenger is Tara Hollis, who reported raising $3,566, but spent all but $953.21 of it, according to the Times-Picayune – Jindal, on the other hand, has as much as $8.8 million in the bank.
If there are no drastic changes, Gov. Jindal could win re-election for another term, which could spell more social disaster for Louisiana.
A recent poll by Southern Media and Opinion Research found that Louisiana citizens are dissatisfied with Jindal and the legislature, and only 35.6 percent of the voting public would reelect him – 60 percent of voters would rather cast a ballot for someone else.
But, realistically, we’re going to be stuck with Jindal, according to Southern Media and Opinion Research pollster Bernie Pinsonat.
“The governor doesn’t appear to be in any danger of missing reelection this fall, especially without any real challenger so far,” said Pinsonat. “But his approval ratings are the same as the fall and have actually gone down over the course of his term. That’s significant, considering that Jindal is regarded as a reform governor.”
Pinsonat also said that while voters had high expectations of Jindal, those goals don’t seem to be getting met.
“True leadership means not just looking for one-time easy solutions, but rather addressing the fundamental challenges that confront us. It’s not enough to kick this challenge down the road to await us next year or the year after that,” Jindal said in a statement to the legislature a year after he was elected.
Yet Jindal has been trading long-term solutions for quick, easy fixes:
He attempted to privatize three state prisons, which would have saved money at first, but cost more money in the long haul.
He was partly responsible for Repealing the Stelly Plan, a government plan that traded lower sales tax for higher income taxes of those making $80,000 or more – but the repeal didn’t change the lower income taxes, which was partly responsible for $376 million deficit for the 2010 budget year.
He used stimulus money to fill a $319 million budget hole this year, after slicing over $200 million from Health and Education budgets. He did this after repeatedly speaking bad of the stimulus.
He fought to raise tuition rather than taxes, putting the burden on paying for education on the students’ backs, rather than on the state. Louisiana is ranked 27th in the U.S. for per-pupil education spending, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, but it’s probably lower than that considering that future slashes to the education budget don’t get counted in the original state budget.
He fought against the renewal of a 4 cent cigarette tax, which would have cost Louisiana approximately $50 million if it wasn’t added to a TOPS amendment at the last second. According to the Southern Media and Opinion Research poll, 66 percent of Louisiana residents favored raising taxes on cigarettes.
He passed the Louisiana Science Education Act, a bill written by one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Louisiana, which allows the teaching of Creationism beside evolution in the science classroom. Creationism isn’t a scientific theory, it’s a religious one – and scientific high-tech companies know this. So far, a scientific group has already pulled one of their annual meetings from New Orleans because of this, losing us around 2,000 high-earning tourists, and more science groups are planning to do the same. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, Louisiana has dropped to the 47th state in the nation as far as science jobs go.
“Our greatest exports aren’t the crops we grow, it’s not the oil, the gas we drill, it’s not the products we make. Our greatest exports have been the sons and daughters of Louisiana. They’ve been leaving year after year to pursue their dreams and opportunities in other states,” said Jindal at the beginning of his term, though it appears he’s actually partly to blame for this happening.
Just this year he sliced over $200 million from health and education budgets. He’s done the same thing years prior.
Unfortunately, it looks like we’re going to get more of the same bad government decisions, because Hollis is unlikely to be elected, and no other wealthy Democratic opponents seem liable to take the stand.