On an almost daily basis, I wonder why the hell I’m living in Louisiana. Scorching heat and humidity, roads that look like they’re from a third-world country, and a corrupt criminal justice system in which it’s often hard to tell the criminals from the police – that’s Louisiana.
If you’ve ever tried to figure out how a state could elect someone as incompetent and incendiary as Bobby Jindal not once, but twice, take a stroll through Facebook pages for TV stations like KPLC, KATC or KLFY and you’ll quickly realize why. You’ll find people ranting about how President Obama is the anti-Christ, how gays are trying to indoctrinate children through Common Core, and a myriad of other insane stories. It’s no wonder that with very little effort, my friend Blake has managed to convince hundreds of local people that there is an escaped hippo living in our local Lake Martin, among a number of other pranks.
So if it’s this easy to fool gullible residents of Louisiana, imagine how little work it takes for a political party to get hundreds of thousands of residents to vote against their self interests? While Louisiana politics have always been notoriously corrupt with famous governors like Edwin Edwards and Huey Long, Bobby Jindal’s administration represents a new chapter in state politics, one that turns away from the populist platform that these governors stood on and into the toxic brew of the politics of hatred and intolerance. Huey Long and Edwin Edwards were loved by many, even though both were considered by many to be extremely corrupt, but people weren’t bothered that much by it because they got things done for the citizens of Louisiana. However, Jindal’s actions – like signing a bill killing lawsuits against BP and other oil companies for damages to coastal communities – are benefiting corporate interests rather than the citizens of the state itself.
Now with a state budget facing a $1.6 billion shortfall, Jindal and his cronies in the state legislature are trying to find ways to reduce the huge deficit. Normally, if you were looking at a budget gap that large and you were in charge of a business or a state government – and you were a sane and rational person – you’d start doing things like finding out why 1 in 4 of the largest corporations doing business in your state don’t pay income taxes. Oh right, I forgot, this is Louisiana under Bobby Jindal we’re talking about. Guess what that means? If you guessed slash funding for education like Sam Brownback is doing in Kansas while continuing to give generous tax breaks to your buddies and their fading TV reality show up in West Monroe, you’d be 100% correct.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a potential Republican presidential candidate, is trying to close a $1.6 billion budget hole without touching as much as $415,000 per episode in tax breaks that may be due to “Duck Dynasty.”
The A&E television reality show takes part in the nation’s most generous entertainment-tax credit program. Jindal is proposing no changes, arguing that reducing such breaks is tantamount to raising taxes. The state approves enough incentives each year to make up at least $200 million in proposed cuts that led Louisiana State University to say that it may plan for insolvency.
“You’re talking about between $200 million and $250 million a year that goes out the door to TV and film producers to come here and shoot their pictures, in a state where money is scarce,” said Jan Moller, director of the Louisiana Budget Project, which advocates policies that benefit low- and moderate-income people. “It’s irresponsible to let this part of the budget continue running amok at a time when they’re talking about closing college campuses.” (Source)
In defense of Kansas, their budget gap is only $800 million, which is half of what Louisiana is currently looking at. So how are these states planning to attract businesses if they can’t provide them with educated workers or infrastructure that doesn’t look like it will collapse during the next strong wind storm? The answer is that they aren’t. Governors like Bobby Jindal and Sam Brownback don’t care about actually taking care of their constituents, they care about appealing to the religious right with laws that promote bigotry and making sure their corporate friends pay as little in taxes as possible, all while shifting the burden of the taxes that are paid off onto the very people who voted for them as they run their states into the ground financially. At least with a $415,000 per episode tax break, we’ve finally found out why those Robertson boys put up with Bobby Jindal and his sad, sad attempts to be a Louisiana good ‘ol boy.
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