Thursday, May 28, 2009

Maginnis: Jindal will own broken higher education system

One of the state's most respected political columnists slices and dices Governor Bobby Jindal's plan to defund higher education in this essay, courtesy of the BayouBuzz blog.

Writing that it "is clear that Bobby Jindal does not aspire to be the higher education governor," political maven John Maginnis applies former Secretary of State Colin Powell's dictum about the Iraq war to Jindal's handling of the higher education funding:

Over the next two years, no one will determine the fate of public universities
more than will Bobby Jindal, and vice versa. If, by when his time as governor is
through, higher education is not efficiently restructured but broken instead, he
will own it.

Maginnis notes that Jindal, whose presidential aspirations are pinned to his credibility with an ultraconservative base, is vowing to veto legislation that could delay some of the overly generous tax breaks offered in the recent past.

"(Jindal) may reject the proposed deduction freeze as a tax increase by another name," writes Maginnis, "but his tough-love/tough-luck response to the colleges’ plight falls short of responsible leadership."

Jindal has ceded that responsibility to Higher Education Commissioner Sally Clausen, who has warned the governor that his rigid ideological stance may be devastating to a state whose future success depends on a vibrant system of higher education

The inelegant, but crucial, solution to the problem is the same kind of budget fudging that has kept Louisiana's fiscal head above water for generations. Plugging the holes with one-time infusions of cash is better than watching our colleges and universities crash and burn.

As Maginnis puts it, "applying some less-than-pure budgetary fixes might require some compromise on the governor’s part, to which he is not accustomed, but that’s what on-the-job training is for."

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