Governor Bobby Jindal told a group of lawmakers on Thursday that he may propose selling off state assets and privatizing some services as a stopgap measure to deal with a looming $1.6 billion budget shortfall next year.
This is the same Gov. Jindal who used to say that it is a bad idea to use one-time funds to pay for recurring costs, but that is exactly what he is proposing. Skeptics say the governor is just kicking the can down the road, using whatever desperate measures he can conjure to keep the state afloat long enough for him to make his next job move.
Of particular concern is the idea of privatizing the PPO portion of the Office of State Group Benefits employee health plan. Many school districts use Office of Group Benefits to provide health insurance to their employees. Selling off employee benefits might raise some fast cash to further the governor's political ambitions, but could put the future health care of teachers and school employees at risk.
Jindal's new scheme was widely covered in the state's news media. Michelle Millhollon's story in The Advocate is here; Mike Hasten covered it for the Gannett chain here, and Jan Moller wrote it up for the Times Picayune here.
This Associated Press story in Gambit says that senators are already expressing concern over the governor's idea to sell state penal institutions: "Gov. Bobby Jindal’s idea to sell state property to offset budget gaps drew complaints Friday from state senators who said it doesn’t make sense to generate short-term cash relief for long-term money woes."