Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Jindal's Economic and Education Disasters

This story in The Advocate demonstrates once again what a disaster Governor Jindal has been for our state economy. At the same time that Jindal and his staff were handing out huge financial incentives and tax exemptions to big business, he was also implementing drastic cuts to the budgets of Louisiana universities and community colleges. The theory has been that if Louisiana keeps handing out bribe money to the captains of industry they will repay us by providing more and better jobs to Louisiana workers. You know, the same old trickle down economics that Ronald Reagan and his followers proved does not work! Now we are learning that often those businesses took our tax money and never came through with the jobs.

It is amazing how determined certain politicians such as Jindal are to distribute corporate welfare to businesses who don't need it and at the same time cut the lifelines ordinary citizens have for moving up in the world. When I attended LSU in the 60's my tuition was minimal and my room in North Stadium Dormitory was $92 per semester. I got a National Defense Education loan from the federal government where the interest was only about 3% and just half of the entire loan had to be paid back if I taught in K-12 public education for at least 5 years. The children got an enthusiastic new science teacher and my college expenses were fully paid off by the time I was 28. Today, many of our college students are being saddled with a huge debt burden that often cripples their personal finances for many years.

Almost four years ago I wrote this post describing how Jindal had paid a multi-million dollar subsidy to a chicken processing plant in North Louisiana that had threatened to close. Jindal's gift allowed the company to keep employing minimum wage workers, many of whom actually lived in Arkansas.  This was done not long after Jindal successfully pushed for the establishment of two privately run virtual charter schools that resulted in the layoffs of dozens of highly qualified Louisiana teachers so that out-of-state companies could make a profit off of our school children. Three years later I posted a report about national studies of those same two virtual schools in Louisiana concluding that they were providing some of the worst education in the country. Part of the conclusions of the studies were that the students who attended our real public schools advanced in their studies at double the rate of the virtual students. So Louisiana gave our tax money to low wage chicken processors and farmed out teaching jobs to a couple of low performing for-profit virtual schools. That's pretty much the story of the Jindal legacy.