Is Bobby Jindal Avoiding Hard Decisions?
Like many states, Louisiana is facing a budget shortfall. However, the last time the Revenue Estimating Conference met they estimated that next year’s state revenues actually would be MORE than this year’s. The shortfall is due to fewer federal dollars coming into the state. Amazingly enough, rising Republican star Bobby Jindal used one-time federal revenues two years ago (not sure of the number but I think it was around $1 billion) to fund RECURRING health care and higher ed expenses.
Louisiana has more 4 year colleges and universities per capita than any other state, and two higher education boards to oversee them. With a state population of around 4 million, there are 4 year institutions, most if not all offering post graduate degrees, in Lake Charles (McNeese), Alexandria (LSU-A), Thibodaux (Nichols State), Hammond (Southeastern), Monroe (U of LA Monroe), Grambling St., Ruston (La Tech. Ruston is within spitting distance of Grambling…), Shreveport (LSU and Southern), New Orleans (UNO and Southern, which share a property line!) and Baton Rouge (LSU and Southern). I don’t know what the overall graduation rate is, but in most of these institutions it is abysmal, with Grambling and Southern New Orleans less than 20 percent.
This is fiscally unsustainable, and the solution, while not easy, is simple. Turn the poor-performing institutions into community/junior colleges, and provide full state support for the institutions that at least meet minimum standards. From the Edwin Edwards years, through Roemer, Foster and Blanco, this untenable situation was maintained because state leaders determined it was “politically impossible” to reform.
I (and a whole bunch of others!) voted for Bobby Jindal with every expectation that he would be the governor who would have the character to finally make the hard choices.
So far, Jindal’s solution is to make it easier for the legislature to get their hands on constitutionally protected trust funds. Is this the kind of leadership conservatives seek?