If, as most observers believe, Gov. Bobby Jindal has designs on seeking the Republican presidential nomination for 2016 he first must demonstrate that he is an administrator capable of running his own state and for him to do that, there are several clichés frequently employed by our parents and grandparents that might apply:
Get on the stick, shake a leg, get the lead out, make haste, get it in gear, quit burning daylight, get your act together, s**t or get off the pot…well, you get the idea.
Jindal has had the better part of seven years to turn this state around economically, culturally and educationally or to at least make strides to that end in order to demonstrate his leadership abilities.
To say he has failed would be kind. The truth is, his administration, with only 14 months left, is an abject failure, those glowing surveys about the state’s business climate touted by his head cheerleader and Baton Rouge Business Report publisher Rolfe McCollister, Jr., notwithstanding. (McCollister, Jindal’s former campaign treasurer whom Jindal appointed to the LSU Board of Supervisors, would not appear to be the most objective member of the fourth estate to report on the administration’s accomplishments.)
The current outstanding weeklong analytical series by the Baton Rouge Advocate entitled Giving Away Louisiana, on the other hand, provides ample evidence of massive—and ill-advised—tax breaks given business and industry that have done little to light a fire under the state’s moribund economy.
Congratulations on superb coverage of such a complex topic by Advocate staffers Jeff Adelson, Rebekah Allen, Mark Ballard, Gordon Russell, Richard Thompson, Edie White, John Ballance, Patrick Dennis, Bill Feig, Walt Handelsman, Jay Martin, Heather McClelland, John McCusker, Paul Sandau, and Travis Spradling.
Two glaring examples of poor fiscal policies cited by the Advocate include:
- The foolishly generous film and TV tax breaks have succeeded in luring production companies to Louisiana, but at what costs? True, Twelve Years a Slave was a huge success, winning three Oscars and a Golden Globe Award, among others. On the other hand, there is that $200 million bomb Green Lantern. For that cinematic disaster, the state gave away $35 million in subsidies but recovered only $8 million of that amount. The Advocate pointed out that the state poured more money into that forgettable film than it appropriated for the University of New Orleans. How’s that for setting your priorities? And every time a Duck Dynasty episode airs, the state has to pony up about $300,000 in similar taxpayer-financed breaks. http://blogs.theadvocate.com/specialreports/2014/12/02/giving-away-louisiana-film-tax-incentives/
- And then there is that vaguely-defined policy called Enterprise Zone, a tax incentive program ostensibly created to attract business and industry to depressed areas as a means of spurring employment, stimulating the economy and improving living conditions of low-income residents. The only thing wrong with this $69 million per year boondoggle is that it’s not working. Instead, the Enterprise Zone tax credits are being used to underwrite construction of projects like a couple of Walmart stores in St. Tammany Parish, one of the more affluent areas of the state, and for expensive shops in an upscale Baton Rouge retail complex—even as low-income areas of the state continue to deteriorate. http://blogs.theadvocate.com/specialreports/2014/12/01/giving-away-louisiana-2/
The dismal performance of those two programs are precisely why 24/7 Wall Street, a financial news and opinion company which publishes more than 30 articles per day, released a report on Thursday (Dec. 4) which pegs Louisiana as being the 11th worst-run state in America. http://247wallst.com/special-report/2014/12/03/the-best-and-worst-run-states-in-america-a-survey-of-all-50-3/
“Selecting appropriate criteria to compare the 50 states is difficult,” the story says, “because there is so much variation among the states. Some depend disproportionately on one industry while others’ economies are more balanced.
Some of the best-run states benefit from a wealth of natural resources. North Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska, and Texas, according to the survey, are among the top 10 best-run states, and in all four, the mining industry—which includes fossil fuel extraction—is a major contributor to state GDP, the report says.
“While each state is different, states at both ends of the list share certain characteristics,” the report says. For example, people living in the worst-run states were likely to have lower standards of living. Violent crime rates and the percentage of those living in poverty were typically higher in these states, while the percentage of those with at least a high school diploma was lower than the national rate.
The worst-run states also tended to have weaker fiscal management and poor credit ratings from Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s (S&P). Illinois, the worst-run state in America, received lower ratings than any other state from both agencies while most of the 10 best-run states had perfect ratings from both agencies, it said.
Louisiana, in ranking 40th in the nation, managed to fare better than New Jersey, which ranked 43rd, or eighth worst, something Jindal might use against Gov. Christ Christie if it comes down to a race between those two for the GOP nomination.
Following Illinois in 24/7 Wall Street’s list of worst-run state in the U.S. were New Mexico, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Arizona, Georgia, New Jersey, Missouri, Alabama and Louisiana.
In breaking down its statistical information, the survey showed that Louisiana’s $3,333 debt per capita was right at the mid-point at 24th lowest and the unemployment rate was 15th lowest in the nation at 6.2 percent, those favorable factors were offset by the state’s median household income of $44,164, eighth lowest, and a poverty rate of 19.8 percent that was third highest.
Louisiana had “one of the lowest median household incomes in the nation,” at just $44,164, the report said “and 10.7 percent of all households reported an income of less than $10,000, a higher rate than in any state except for Mississippi. Largely due to these low incomes, the poverty rate in Louisiana was nearly 20 percent (19.8 percent) and 17.2 percent of households used food stamps last year, both among the highest rates in the nation. The state’s GDP grew by 1.3 percent last year, less than the U.S. overall. This was largely due to a decline in output from the mining industry, which accounted for 8 percent of Louisiana’s output, versus 2.3 percent across the country. Louisiana’s ranking was bolstered by its high exports, which equaled $13,693 per capita in 2013, the most in the nation. Last year, products made from petroleum and coal accounted for more than 40 percent of the state’s exports.”
And all this time, Jindal has been telling us that Louisiana’s economic growth during his administration has surpassed other southern states and that of the nation as a whole. See this August release by Jindal. Scroll down to the paragraph beginning “Louisiana’s Economic Growth” at this link: http://www.bobbyjindal.com/blog.html/