Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stretching the numbers and the truth

Across the political spectrum, Gov. Bobby Jindal's agenda is being exposed as an exercise in spin aimed more at political gain than the good of the state.

As Mark Ballard, The Advocate's capitol bureau chief, lays out in this column, Jindal's claims of fiscal success ring very hollow.

First, C.B. Forgotston, a right-leaning economic analyst, lays bare the deception in the governor's claims that he has “reduced the state budget by a stunning total of $9 billion..."

In fact, the reduction claimed by Jindal is the result of comparing estimates, according to Forgotston, and not because of any real reduction in the budget.

As the Louisiana Budget Project has demonstrated, when federal funds are subtracted, Louisiana's general fund budget has remained virtually flat since 2005.

Then there is the administration's claim to have actually increased education funding through the Minimum Foundation Program, a claim debunked by the LFT in Ballard's column.

The governor did not increase education funding. Per-pupil funding for the MFP has been frozen for three years, thanks to the governor, the legislature and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

While the total amount of money in the MFP has gone up, that is because of increases in student enrolment and other automatic triggers that the governor does not control. He is taking credit for something he did not do.

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