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Blanco road plan reply shows continued fealty to politics

No longer may she be running for reelection, but that change in status hasn’t appeared to make Democrat Gov. Kathleen Blanco any smarter or less political when it comes to formulating good policy.

Louisiana has a $14 billion backlog in state road needs, for which independent state Rep. Joel Robideaux and Republican state Sen. Mike Michot have a great idea: divert sales taxes on vehicles to roads work in proportion to where the sales occur. Their plan would pump in about $300 million more a year into eating away that backlog (which currently gets only $100 million a year towards it; any remaining funding comes out of capital outlay debt).

Currently, that $300 million or so goes into the state’s general fund and is spent on anything. At the current rate of inflation, the general fund this year would remain about the same in level taking this stream of money away from it. Note also that estimates of a budget surplus are now above $3.2 billion, so the diverted amount is less than one-tenth of that.

Yet Blanco sees something wrong with this, stating “Schools, universities and hospitals … could conceivably be short-changed” if the plan succeeds. This fantastically idiotic view is simultaneously hypocritical and illogical.

If Blanco is so concerned about, using an example she gave, health care funds, why does she not champion changing long-term health care reimbursement rules and laws that the Louisiana Legislative Auditor reports would save nearly $100 million a year? And this is the same Blanco who says she wants to pour into road projects hundreds of millions of dollars from a surplus she sees going into the future as far as they eye can see, so why not use this legislation to do it?

The answer to why she subscribes to this view is her reliance on politics rather than principle. She is a political ally of institutional health care interests that want to preserve the current inefficient long-term health care regime, and she supports the good-old-boy network which likes to use road projects doled out through the capital outlay process as enticement for voters and to get legislative opponents to see things their way by dangling goodies; automating the process, so to speak, removes the ability to do that. At the same time, it slows the growth of big government, another cherished goal of Blanco and her allies.

Robideaux’s and/or Michot’s legislation needs to be passed, daring lame-duck Blanco to veto the measure.

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