What is he thinking?
One has to wonder what Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards thinks about when he lays his head on his pillow at night in the Governor’s Mansion.
A couple of tried-and-true sayings come to mind. “Be careful what you wish for” is one. The other is “If it weren’t for bad news, there would be no news at all”.
When he took the oath of office and settled into his Fourth Floor Office in the State Capitol, he discovered that Louisiana was facing a fiscal crisis to rival any of those of past decades.
To make matters more difficult, he was facing a Republican-controlled Legislature, which ignored his leadership choices and placed its own party favorites in the top jobs.
That development must have caused some tossing and turning in his bed at night. After all, many of those same Republican legislators are partly responsible for the financial mess because they did not have the courage to challenge Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Even after a chaotic special session where taxes were raised and cuts were made, the state is still facing a $70 million dollar budget hole for this year which ends June 30.
And glancing down the road, there is a $750 million sinkhole in the budget for the next fiscal year. That means another special session will have to be called to deal with that impending disaster.
If the Republicans in the Legislature refuse to approve any more taxes or eliminate tax credits to corporations, standing in the cross-hairs, as usual, will be higher education and healthcare services.
It’s not an enviable position for the governor or for any legislator for that matter. The citizens of the Bayou State have finally been told the truth about the failures of the Jindal administration where most of his attention was set on his ambition to become president of the United States, which by the way, also turned out to be a disaster.
To be sure, it is a turbulent – and crucial – time in Louisiana’s history when the governor and 144 men and women in the Legislature will determine the state’s future for many years to come. Good luck.
Wait! There is a bit of good news
There is a bit of good news for Gov. John Bel Edwards. A recent poll reveals that more than half of respondents blame former Gov. Bobby Jindal for the state’s financial crisis while one-quarter blame the Legislature.
The poll was conducted by the University of New Orleans Research Center the weekend after the special session was completed.
When asked if there is a crisis with the state budget, 79% said yes, 11% said no, and 10% didn’t know. When asked who is responsible for the budget crisis, 55% said Jindal, 28% said the Legislature, 4% said Edwards, and 13% didn’t blame anyone.
There was more good news for the new governor. He is viewed more favorably than the Republican-controlled Legislature. Edwards had a 43% favorability rating with 34% viewing him unfavorably. The Legislature, however, was viewed favorably by only 15% of respondents, while 53% gave it an unfavorable rating. The remaining respondents to ge to 100% refused to answer the question.
In studying the poll, it is a bit disconcerting to note that only 79% believe the state has a budget crisis and that 4% believe the crisis was created by Gov. Edwards. One has to wonder what planet they live on. But it indicates how many uninformed voters we have in the state. Either that, or they just don’t care. One can deduct that those factors are why voter turnout in all elections is so low.
Lou Gehrig Burnett is a seasoned veteran of national and local politics. He publishes Fax-Net Update, a weekly political newsletter.