Friday, November 27, 2015

Cleaning up Bobby Jindal’s mess in Louisiana

By Editorial Board November 26 at 7:44 PM, WashPost

IT’S NOT so clear who really won Louisiana’s gubernatorial election over the weekend, Democrat John Bel Edwards, who will run the state starting next year, or Republican David Vitter, who will be spared the task of cleaning up the shambles that outgoing Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) is leaving behind. Mr. Jindal put ideological purity over prudence, the Grover Norquist no-tax pledge over good policy. The result has been, as with Kansas under Gov. Sam Brownback (R), a state-level conservative experiment gone awry.

Either candidate who sought to succeed Mr. Jindal would have been an upgrade. Mr. Edwards and Mr. Vitter both rightly criticized the outgoing governor’s plans to fill massive budget gaps. The latest is a $500 million midyear hole that the state’s leaders are trying to close. It appears the “solution” will involve digging more into health-care funding and pushing some payments off into the next fiscal year — making budget imbalances the next governor’s problem.

This is the same basic budget strategy Mr. Jindal’s Louisiana has used for some time: loot the state’s rainy-day funds and other one-time sources while cutting education and other state programs. The outgoing governor’s last budget raised some revenue through cigarette taxes and other measures, but it clearly wasn’t enough given the midyear fiscal straits the state is dealing with now. While it’s true that the energy-rich state’s revenue has suffered from the drop in oil prices, Mr. Jindal’s mismanagement — optimized to appeal to voters in GOP presidential primaries — has been a major contributor to the problem.

(More here.)

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