Brandon's Blog

Jindal’s Hail Mary

Just in case some of you think I am coming off as very non-libertarian, while I want less government, I want it reduced in a way that works. If you want to land a plane in the air, you don’t just shut off the engine and let the plane crash. There is a certain procedure you use to land. Jindal is taking the state on a nose dive and has no idea what a landing gear is for.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, being a good Catholic and a football fan, knows a lot about Hail Mary’s. Jindal, polling at well under 5% when it comes to the Republican nomination in 2016, will need one. I think he had the same plan since he first ran for governor in 2003 (the last time I voted for Jindal for anything). But I don’t think he ever envisioned himself near the bottom of the presidential contenders where instead of this being the icing on the cake, he’s now in a position where he needs a really big legislative accomplishment to get back in the hunt.

And have you ever thought of something that seemed too far fetched to be true, but when you put the pieces together, it’s not as unlikely as it sounds?

If you how things have been going in Louisiana the past 6.5 years, Jindal pushed the legislature to lower the tax rate (repealed the Stelly Plan) too quickly and without a plan on how to handle the reduction in revenue. Higher education and health care have taken many cuts. Many times, projected revenue fell well short of what was expected. Other times trust funds were raided as one time funds to pay annual costs. (BP Oil spill money was used to repay some of these. The money was suppose to be for coastal restoration. But it was justified because according the legis. if the oil spill did not occur, the states revenue would have been higher and the money would not have had to be taken from the trust fund.)

I “like” State Treasurer John N. Kennedy on Facebook (and will probably vote for him if he runs for governor in 2015). He shared an editorial from The News Star (Monroe) about Jindal’s veto of HR 142 which hints at what I think Jindal will do, but I don’t think the editorial staff thinks Jindal will take it as far as I think he will take it. . HR 142 passed both the House and the Senate unanimously, but they chose not to attempt to override it. The bill was suppose to cut state contracts ($5.86 B) by 10% and send that ($586 M) to higher education. From the editorial:

Jindal has his reasons for the veto. In past reports, he has said it would interfere with his scheme to privatize state services.

In his veto message, he said the bill could “hinder the state’s efforts to continue to provide its citizens with timely, high quality services.”

To further slim the state budget, Jindal privatized the state run hospitals. Some were shut down while others were sold and taken over by private managing firms. It’s too early to say if it’s working or not.

So what can Jindal privatize next?

How about the state run universities.

Doing that may or may not require a constitutional amendment. If it does, then this is DOA. But let’s say it doesn’t. Privatizing the hospitals did not require amending the state’s constitution.

The universities have taken a major cut in funding since Jindal became governor. Either late in the Blanco administration or early in the Jindal administration, I remember hearing we were along he lines of 60% self funded, 40% state funded. While we don’t know for sure, we think we’re now closer to 80% self funded.

Had Jindal proposed this idea early in his administration, it would have gone no where. Why change something that seems to be working. So he spent six years reducing the funding for the universities so now the idea of privatizing them looks like it might actually improve things. And as the saying often goes, could it make thing any worse than they are now?

But whether or not it makes things better or worse does not matter for Jindal. The next presidential election will be long over before we find out the answer to that question. What matters is that he gets the bill signed into law to say he did.

Jindal, who is polling really poorly nationally, would get a lot of people talking about him if this happened. This would be a bold move. While there are other universities in the country looking to either go private, or gain more autonomy, this would (I think) be the first time a governor of the state is actually pushing it. (If he expects this to actually work, he will have to have a plan to deal with the student loan bubble. If he does not address that either he doesn’t care about this plan actually working, or it’s another issue where he is out of touch with non-upper level government people and party insiders.)

Among the potential 2016 Republican contenders, there are a few who ran previously (Perry, Huckabee) and some senators / representatives (Paul, Cruz, Ryan) who are often in the news. Among current and former governors who haven’t ran previously, there’s John E. Bush (JEB) who is the brother of the former president and is from a “swing state”; Chris Christie who was almost the VP nominee in 2012 and is “from a blue state” so that gets a lot of attention; and Scott Walker who weakened unions in Wisconsin and defeated the Dems in a recall election, and he’s also “from a blue state”. Jindal needs something big because his current record isn’t much to run on. Does anyone doubt that Walker will talk a lot about the unions and beating the recall? Jindal needs something to attach his name to and get the attention of voters. Privatizing state universities is something that will definitely go over well with Republican voters.

The Jindal plan can be summed up as follows: 1. Weaken the universities. 2. Come up with a bold plan – that you have previously implemented on smaller scale and that will be popular with primary voters – to save the universities (that you weakened) but now instead of hoping it will take you from the top tier to the very top, you are just hoping it will get you out of the bottom tier. Phase 1 complete. Time to begin phase 2.

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