Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Jindal gets it wrong on revenues

Give Gov. Jindal's speech writers credit - they came up with great sounding phrases for his address to the legislature on Monday. The promise of his rhetoric is surpassed by the emptiness of his ideas, however.

Often derided for his staccato speech delivery, Jindal's style was a good fit for the machine-gun diatribe produced for the opening session: “Tax increases kill jobs,” he said. “Tax increases kill opportunities. Tax increases hurt economic development. Tax increases hurt our ability to attract new businesses into Louisiana.”

The problem is that it's just not true. If cutting taxes and slashing services was the right strategy for success, we would have high employment, low poverty, a healthy population and a robust, growing, well educated state.

We know better. In fact, since the massive tax cuts approved by the legislatrue in 2007 and 2008, our unemployment rate has gone from 4% to 8.1%. Our population is not growing, as evidenced by our loss of a congressional seat.

As Louisiana Budget Project Director Eddie Ashworth said in this paper, "The state has lost over 16,000 manufacturing jobs. Louisianans continue to be among the least healthy (ranking 49th) and poorest educated (ranking 49th) in the country."

The truth is that Louisiana needs a balanced approach to the budget, one that includes new revenues along with reasonable budget cuts. We need to take a look at the $7.1 billion in tax exemptions offered by the state, and make sure that all of them either serve a purpose for the people of the state, or else are repealed so that funds are available to create the quiality of life our citizens deserve.

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