By Robert Mann
With his job approval rating at a dismal 20 percent, how will Gov. Bobby Jindal spend his final days in office? Why, he’ll waste state resources touring Louisiana to tell us that, despite whatever you’ve read in the papers, he was really a marvelous governor.
Never mind that the state’s fiscal affairs are a catastrophe and only getting worse. Forget that Jindal abandoned us for two years while he waged an inept campaign for president. Please don’t note that under his watch college tuition skyrocketed and the state’s universities were almost shuttered. Ignore the legions of working poor he denied health care. Overlook that we still have crumbling roads and bridges and endure some of the nation’s worst crime and deepest poverty.
Jindal went first to Shreveport Tuesday (Dec. 8) to brag about bringing new jobs to Louisiana. He claims he’s created 91,000 new jobs and secured $62 billion in capital investment. Jindal touts those two numbers because he has little else to hype.
Even if it’s true (Jindal offers no substantiation for that jobs figure), what he omits is the painful price of those “investments” and their legacy costs. The new business Jindal boasts about didn’t materialize because he turned Louisiana into a Utopia. They mostly came because of overgenerous tax incentives and other subsidies that he and legislators forked over as inducements.
In other words, during Jindal’s term, the state gave away hundreds of millions in tax credits and exemptions and direct appropriations to businesses. It’s one reason we’re in a fiscal ditch and why the Legislature last spring began the difficult process of suspending and repealing some of those costly tax giveaways. Even Jindal finally admitted that he enabled “corporate welfare.”
What’s left is a battered revenue system that has never produced a budget that was balanced without the creative accounting of the con artists who run Jindal’s Division of Administration. Jindal wants us to believe he transformed the state’s economy. He transformed it, alright – into a state with a budgetary black hole that annually threatens to obliterate higher education and health care.
It is true that Jindal induced some companies to locate or expand here. That clearly resulted in some new jobs – although given Jindal’s pattern of dissembling about budgets and other numbers, I doubt the real figure is anywhere near 91,000.
Regardless, shouldn’t a transformed, supercharged economy with tens of thousands of new jobs generate enough revenue to fund health care and higher education? If Jindal had transformed our economy into a juggernaut, would we still have the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the nation?
Eight years ago, we handed Jindal the keys to state government. Like a reckless teenager entrusted with the family car, Jindal is returning our vehicle in deplorable condition. It’s now a banged-up jalopy, missing a couple of wheels. Like the charlatan he’s always been, however, Jindal tells us the car doesn’t have a scratch. In fact, he says, it’s now a Ferrari. The message of Jindal’s tour is, essentially, “When it comes to my record as governor, who do you believe, me or your lying eyes?”
Continue reading on NOLA.com at this link.