Almost unnoticed by many people in our state, Gov. Bobby Jindal feverishly is going about his plan to sell some of our state’s biggest assets to private buyers.
These include our state prisons. It is clear the cost to run these prisons would be much higher in the future, but the governor wants the “one-time” money to balance our budget for one of the next four years. Let someone else worry about the fallout in coming years.
You might have thought we dodged this bullet in 2011, but think again. Hundreds of Louisiana citizens will lose their jobs and, if they manage to stay employed, will lose health-care and retirement benefits.
Right next to that on the agenda is the sale of the Office of Group Benefits, the state health-care plan for most state workers. Jindal expects to make a profit of $150 million to $200 million or more off this sale to — you guessed it — balance the budget for another year. The OGB is very efficiently and economically run by Louisiana citizens, but Jindal would have it run by Wall Street types from a high-rise in New York City.
Teachers? They could be next. Jindal has four years to cover himself, and it’s not like these dedicated workers are not already underpaid.
Funds skimmed off the OGB and teacher retirement plans belong to those dedicated workers and are not for the governor to take, but don’t bet on it. If you call yourself conservative and wish to transfer power from the federal government to the states, do you really want to undercut our state and its citizen-employees like this?
Who will it be in year four? Police and firefighter retirement systems? How about selling off some bridges? The Pontchartrain Causeway could yield a lot of toll money to a private business for years to come. (Yes, this has been discussed seriously.)
When I say feverish, I mean it. Since the first study done after this year’s legislative session showed sale of the OGB would decrease coverage and increase premiums, Jindal has set out to get another “appraisal,” something more to his liking.
You’ll be thinking “recall,” but forget it. Your recall election is Oct. 22, and it’s time many of us quit voting against our own interests and in the best interests of our great state.
I’ll be voting for Tara Hollis!
Dan McKay Jr.