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23.1.08

Reform officials must rid state of pest legislation

If anybody unfamiliar with traditional politics in Louisiana needs any instruction into how dysfunctional the situation has been, one need look only at the mess created over pest control in the state’s Department of Agriculture and draw lessons from there on how to change it.

Former commissioner Bob Odom diverted funds dedicated to fighting boll weevils, in part paid for by cotton farmers for that very purpose, to projects that, if they had any connection to agriculture at all, were money-losers to the state as a whole. Now it seems the so-called dedicated funds to the project won’t be enough to cover the expenses needed to maintain progress on the eradication.

The trouble began years ago when Odom first got the state Legislature to pass a law apportioning as much as $12 million a year culled from slot machines at race tracks to fight the pest. Initially, the money went for that purpose but as the program became more successful needing less money to keep progress going, Odom began to find these creative outlets to finance other ventures.


The check on this was supposed to be the State Bond Commission, needed to approve attaching this revenue stream to pay off these projects. But most of its membership was made up of good old boy-and-girl Democrats put there by the Democrat-controlled Legislature and, from 2004 until days ago, former Gov. Kathleen Blanco, and they saw nothing wrong with taking the people’s money sequestered for one thing and spending it on something much different.

As a result, most of the money now legally is attached to paying off long term debt for dubious items that do the state little good. To prevent further abuse (as advocated in the space years ago), the Legislature needs to revoke this dedication and reconfigure the financing to make the outstanding debt come out of capital outlay funds (a waste, but unfortunately made necessary). It then on an annual basis can appropriate money for weevil control.

Gov. Bobby Jindal and new commissioner Mike Strain need to back this in front of the Legislature which not only makes excellent fiscal sense, but also demonstrates in a very symbolic way they and others like them really do mean to change politics in the state to emphasize less special interests and to bring more benefits to the people as a whole.

1 comment:

baton rouge du nord said...

Or we could replace all the cotton fields with McStripscape like they did on Youree Drive, then we wouldn't need to worry with boll weevils.

And we could take the taxes from the slot machines and buy firearms for all us Democrats so we can shoot ourselves in the foot.

Never mind that, we're already going to shoot ourselves in the foot by nominating Hillary Clinton as our presidential candidate.