Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bobby Refuses Porkulus

While much of the nation seems to love and adore Bobby Jindal, feelings about him are mixed in Louisiana. Many of us are still waiting for him to prove himself.

Many of us are still unhappy about his having to be dragged to the veto pen over the recent attempt by the state legislature to give themselves a gazillion percent pay increase right after they got elected, despite Jindal's ethics promise that they could not do that. A massive grassroots state outcry forced him to veto the legislation. He sat back for the longest time and said basically that the legislature should govern itself and if the voters didn't like what they did then they could vote the guys out.

Bobby is in the news again today as he has officially refused part of the Porkulus spending package that relates to expansion of state unemployment heath coverage. He said "Increasing taxes on our Louisiana businesses is certainly not a way to stimulate our economy. It would be the exact wrong thing we could do to encourage further growth and job creation."

He went on to say that "accepting the money would have required a change in state law and, after federal money runs out in three years, would have led to a $12 million increase in taxes on his state's businesses to keep funding the benefit. He also warned other states against the program. 'I strongly suggest that other states also look closely at this provision in the bill so they can also avoid ultimately passing on a significant tax to businesses that will be left paying for this expansion of benefits when the federal money dries up,' he said."

C. B. Forgotston points out, rightly so, that the legislature could overrule Bobby. He points out that the following provision in the bailout legislation gives the final say to the leges:

SEC. 1607. (a) CERTIFICATION BY GOVERNOR Not later than 45 days after the date of enactment of this Act, for funds provided to any State or agency thereof, the Governor of the State shall certify that: 1) the State request and use funds provided by this Act , and; 2) funds be used to create jobs and promote economic growth.

(b) ACCEPTANCE BY STATE LEGISLATURE If funds provided to any State in any division of this Act are not accepted for use by the Governor, then acceptance by the State legislature, by means of the adoption of a concurrent resolution, shall be sufficient to provide funding to such State.

C. B. is usually pretty hard on Bobby. But it's something to think about. Is Jindal refusing the money knowing that the legislature will overrule him and he'll still look good for trying? Is it a ploy? His reasons for refusing the money are certainly spot on. There is much in this bill that is bad and that will become a burden down the road.

Some Louisiana Democrats are, not surprisingly, unhappy with Jindal's statement.

"He seems to be trying to play both sides of the fence. He might refuse some of the money, he might take some of the money," said Louisiana Democratic Party spokesman Scott Jordan.

"We've got almost $2 billion, education, health care, coastal restoration," he said. "The notion that Governor Jindal would turn down money that would help in those areas ... is just crazy."

I'm not sure how Jordan thinks that health insurance money could be spend on coastal restoration but that's probably why I'm not a politician. For my part, I'm with Bobby. Send the whole mess back! Either way, it will be interesting to see how this unfolds. Notably, there was no Porkulus spending directed at Katrina rebuilding, and I was shocked at the lack of outcry from down south on that one.

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