Saturday, March 14, 2009

Jindal's Budget: Bait and Switch



From Times Picayune:
To keep the budget in balance, the administration is proposing to use $943 million of the estimated $3.6 billion Louisiana will receive from the federal stimulus bill. The remaining stimulus money would be used in the following fiscal year. Most of the stimulus money would be used to offset cuts in health care and higher education.

If you can explain this refusal to spend even 1/3 of the stimulus money this year, please do. The purpose of the stimulus package is to revive the economy now so that it does not continue to spiral downward for years to come. Jindal makes the competing claims that the stimulus money must be reserved because the economy will continue to spiral downward for years to come and that the stimulus bill is ill-conceived because the economy will quickly recover on its own. Which is it?

In addition, the budget above is a bait and switch. It claims to use stimulus money for health care and higher education, yet deeply cuts those services simultaneously. The result is a devastating 5% cut from this year's starvation budget for health care and 10% from higher education. The result is closing of health facilities, reduction in Medicaid payments, higher class sizes and fewer course offerings at state colleges and universities, long-term layoffs and hiring freezes, as well as tuition hikes.
Jindal said the stimulus money is intended as a "bridge" as Louisiana downsizes state government after several years of rapid growth.

"The federal funds don't remove the need to make reforms. They give us time to make reforms, " Jindal said.
Again, Jindal finds self-evident the claim that growth in "state government" (i.e., education and health care) is problematic. He also continues to refer to the renewal of state services decimated by Katrina as "rapid growth."
Health and Hospitals Secretary Alan Levine said the budget reductions are intended to lay the groundwork for even deeper reductions in the years ahead, when federal stimulus dollars disappear. "The next three years are going to be very challenging, " Levine said. "We've got to make policy decisions today that decrease our cost structure overall."
Yet again, we're confronted with the rationale that we should not use the stimulus money now because it will disappear later, beyond three years, and the state does not foresee any increase in revenues then, either. No higher tax revenues, no higher oil revenues, no repeal of tax cuts? Or are we merely being ensured that this administration refuses to spend on state services regardless of the shape of our economy?

To add insult to injury, Bobby Jindal refuses to tap into the state's 4M+ "rainy day" fund, a.k.a. the state's budget surplus. A "need" to deny services to the elderly, to mentally ill children, to those on Medicaid, and to working- and middle-class people seeking higher education does not apparently constitute "a rainy day" to Jindal.

For instructions on how to recall a governor, please see the post below.

1 comment:

NOLAtunes said...
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