Once again, we faced certain budgetary disaster well into this year’s regular legislative session only to see the problem miraculously (if temporarily) disappear in its waning days — and with little ill effect, if we are to believe those applauding themselves about it. Significant time also was devoted to the political pretense that it would be OK if we got rid of our income taxes. It’s hard to imagine anybody will ever again believe, or care, that we have a serious, recurring, structural budget problem.
Despite his scholarly views on the health risks and costs of smoking and the potential of taxes to curtail it, our governor vetoed the extension of a 4-cent cigarette tax. The extension had passed the House of Representatives by an ostensibly veto-proof margin. But, under pressure from the administration, the same body failed to muster anywhere near the same number of votes to override the veto. After a little drama, the extension was added to Jindal’s own TOPS bill without his strong objection. Since this proposed constitutional amendment is not subject to veto by the governor and is a sure winner in the popular election, everybody who previously looked bad suddenly looked good — another miracle.
Fresh off defeat of its prison sale proposals, the administration seemed determined to go forward with privatization of a demonstrably cost-efficient state group health insurance program. Nothing was presented to clearly show cost savings from privatizing the program. Quite the contrary, evidence suggested the state and/or participants would have to pay more to a private insurer for the same coverage. Clearly, ideology has trumped reality.
Is it any wonder the credibility of our elected leadership is in question?
retired budget director