I have been chronicling the ever-increasing state budget deficit in Louisiana, Bobby Jindal’s ideologically doctrinaire and ineffectual attempts to find a solution to that deficit that does not involve raising any taxes, and the catastrophic impact that this situation will almost certainly have on Lousiana’s public colleges and universities.
This past week Jindal floated another proposal that confirms not only that he is never going to be the GOP nominee for the presidency but also that he never ought to have been elected governor of a state.
On February 11, an article by Juan Sanchez was published on the website of WDSL in New Orleans . The article contains the following capsule summary of the budget deficit’s potential impact on public higher education in Louisiana:
“Last week, the state announced that up to $400 million is being considered for higher education next year to help cope with a $1.6 billion budget shortfall.
“Documents obtained listed these potential implications:
- 1,433 faculty and staff jobs eliminated
- 1,572 courses cut
- 28 academic programs shut down across campuses
- Six institutions declaring some form of financial emergency
“Last week, LSU leaders from campuses across the state were asked to explain how the budget reductions proposed by Jindal would affect them. In Baton Rouge, LSU leaders believe that 27 percent of faculty positions at the main campus would have to be cut.
“School officials also believe that budget cuts could lessen the value of the degrees that students obtain.”
But, I am sure that some in the governor’s mansion and the state legislature are asking how much it will cost them politically as long as the football team is still competitive.
I feel comfortable being that snarky, and even more so, given Jindal’s newest brainstorm on how to cope with this looming fiscal catastrophe of historic proportions:
Jindal proposes to give corporations increased incentives to give gifts to the colleges and universities.
Beyond the fact that this proposal is like trying to put a bandaid on someone who has just been struck in the head with an axe, this proposal will actually just make things worse.
Just to be clear, all colleges and universities now have foundations to which tax-deductible gifts can be made. So, what Jindal is proposing is that those donors be given additional tax incentives to make donations that will offset the budget deficits that his Far-Right fiscal policies have created. That’s right: he is proposing to offset the deficits caused by continuous tax cuts by offering even more tax cuts. So, even if corporations step up and make the proposed donations, the overall revenues that the state has to cover its obligations will fall by the same amount, making the next budget deficit even worse. In other words, it’s just another version of the shell games that Jindal has been playing to cover over previous deficits.
Jindal has, in effect, been trying to out-Brownback Sam Brownback himself–to go beyond even what has been occurring in Kansas, that other laboratory for ideological insanity. These radical experiments in relentlessly and compulsively cutting taxes are demonstrating the simple truth that if the state doesn’t collect sufficient tax revenues, the state government cannot fund the basic serves and support the essential institutions that it has been charged with providing and preserving.
In other words, the state’s leaders are being grossly irresponsible on the most fundamental level. And they are doing so to establish an ideological purity that will advance their own personal political ambitions by advancing the economic, political, and cultural agendas of the oligarchs who are funding—or whom they hope will fund–their political campaigns.
And at some point, even the numbskulls who have been buying all of the rhetoric and voting the ticket are going to recognize that their state is a shambles and that the people with an inordinate portion of the state’s wealth are no longer responsible for paying their fair share to fix any of it.
Bottom line: this isn’t a Right vs. Left issue—unless having a reasonably functional government is a Right vs. Left issue.