Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Well, yeah.

Interestingly, I had a telephone conversation this morning, with a political neophyte, on this very subject. I endeavored to explain to my phoning pal that as fab as Bobby Jindal is, if he doesn't have an intelligent, courageous, honorable legislature, with, at least, *some* of his vision, the state will remain "stuck on stupid," despite Bobby's best efforts to turn us around.

From The Ouachita Citizen:

Jindal may regret running for governor
by Sam Hanna, Jr. - posted Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

If the current polling on the governor's race holds true to form and Republican Congressman Bobby Jindal is elected governor by a more than impressive margin this fall, what will Jindal face when he takes office in January?

That's an open-ended question, which could be answered a number of ways.

The answer to that question depends greatly on the outcome of the regular session, which hit its halfway mark last week. The answer to that question also depends on the outcome of the legislative races throughout the state, which will be decided in the fall elections as well.

Thus far in the regular session the Legislature would appear to be hell bent on spending as much money as possible, relying on the so-called $3.5 billion in budget surplus funds that either exist today or are projected to bear fruit at some point in the future. Of course, we're alluding to the $830 million in surplus funds that can be counted as money in the bank, while the remaining $2.7 billion or so are surplus monies the state expects to possess at the end of the current fiscal year and at the end of the 2007-08 fiscal year. That $2.7 billion, give or take, is a projected budget surplus. It hasn't been deposited yet. Remember that.

With the Legislature in general in a giving spirit, or a running for public office spirit, some lawmakers have concocted a number of shortsighted propositions about what to do with all of those budget surplus funds. Of course, those propositions are geared toward making them look good in the eyes of the voters, or buying votes.

With that backdrop in mind, solons are peddling a number of bills to grant pay raises for state employees, school teachers and school support personnel, while advocating increased funding for the state's colleges and universities. Let's not forget about pay raises for college faculty, too.

Also, there's talk of pumping millions of dollars more into the LA-4 Pre-K program and hundreds of millions of dollars more in a band-aid approach to tackle the backlog of road construction projects across Louisiana.

Lump it all together, and Huey Long would be proud. It's populism at its best.

In the meantime, lawmakers in general have paid lip service to cutting taxes in a meaningful manner, indicating they're scared to death of facing the proposition that state revenues won't be sufficient in the future to meet the out-of-control demands of a bloated, inefficient state government they helped create.

There's still hope, though, that the Legislature will come to its senses and pass some tax cuts before the session comes to a close in late June. Maybe.

So where will that leave Jindal come January, assuming he's elected this fall?

Jindal will discover a bare cupboard, or a state treasury void of the money any new governor would need to enact the bulk of his or her campaign platform.

He'll have an option, though. He can call a special session and attempt to undo the mess the Legislature is in the process of creating in the current session.

Thus Jindal will need a Legislature chock full of new members who are in tune with his views on governing. That's a must if the voters want Jindal to succeed.

That points to the importance of the legislative races that will play out across the state between now and Election Day in October.

Candidates for the House or the Senate can be labeled one or two ways. They're either with Jindal or against him. There's no fence sitting in that regard.

And voters should take a long, hard look at any and every candidate for the Legislature, especially someone who's attempting to jump from the House to the Senate and vice versa. Voters should review the voting records of the candidates in those races.

If a candidate is running for re-election or running for a legislative body opposite of the one he or she is serving in today, voters would do well to determine whether the candidate in question towed the line for Gov. Kathleen Blanco over the past three-plus years.

With that knowledge in hand, voters should ask themselves the following question: can the candidate in question be trusted if he or she claims to be a reformer like Jindal when, in fact, the candidate was a rubber stamp for Blanco?

Think about it.

If the unthinkable transpires this fall, meaning a Legislature is ushered into office that's anti-Jindal, the young congressman from Kenner via Baton Rouge will regret he ever ran for governor in the first place.

No, it's not being suggested the voters elect a Legislature that would do nothing but vote in favor of every idea Jindal proposed.

It is being suggested that the voters elect lawmakers who don't waffle in the wind like Old Glory.

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