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Queen Bee gets a C

The 2005 hurricane disasters may have changed the face of Louisiana, but the have not altered Gov. Kathleen Blanco, if her address to open the 2006 regular session of the Legislature indicates anything. She still is the hesitant leader with fuzzy vision who would rather tinker at the margins and get along to go along, all the while insisting the opposite.

According to Blanco, Louisiana is powerless to control its own fate, captive to the whims of the federal government, the educational marketplace, and the economic environment. She insists the state had to wait on the federal government on money to fund housing recovery, to approve of a housing plan, and to produce flood maps – when in fact she did nothing about creating a housing recovery plan until recently, relying upon the problematic, failed “Baker bill” as her “plan” and gift of money, and that waiting on flood maps is not at all required to initiate rebuilding efforts.

She claims educational excellence will come as soon as the Legislature supports her plan to give educators pay raises – ignoring the fact that throwing money at teachers does not produce lasting, meaningful improvement in the system, assuming the system even deserves it. And the money to provide those increases comes from one-time federal grants to reduce the state’s health care tab – but Blanco claims the money is permanent in nature because she is negotiating with the federal government for a “long-term commitment” for a “redesigned health care system.” As well, “confidence that our economy will stay strong” does not make her additional spending plans “fiscally sound.”

To Blanco, economic development still remains a game where government spends the state into prosperity with new programs or through bribery by dangling targeted economic incentives or outright gifts in front of business, not a function of creating a more-hospitable economic climate through reduction of costs on economic activity in general through lower taxes, reduced regulation, and in presenting a government that is efficient and ethically unchallenged.

These priorities show Blanco continues to provide poor leadership, while she hypocritically denies she is a follower. She congratulated herself and the Legislature on flood control reform, even as she initially did little for it and only later jumped on the bandwagon. She mentioned consolidation of Orleans government as the next great task even as just weeks ago she barely lifted a finger to make it a reality.

Nor can she prove to us she leads with the proper vision by trying to project force when she clearly has none. Her asserting that she would object to oil lease sales for drilling offshore Louisiana unless Louisiana got a bigger cut from production, that “this is not an idle threat” was pathetic precisely because it is.

The hurricane disasters merely made the state’s myriad long-term problems more evident and pressing than ever, requiring bold leadership with a vision bent on turning around Louisiana’s liberal/populist past. Blanco’s address shows she is not the one to provide it.

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