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Hypocritical legislators bring back politicized pork

They just couldn’t help themselves and, worse, it reeked of hypocrisy when $30 million of slush fund money was shoveled back into the 2010-11 budget for Louisiana as the close of the session.

As previously noted, it wasn’t a great budget that had gotten decided by the Legislature, but one redeeming quality had been its lack of “member amendments,” or line items that direct money to private and public entities in legislators’ districts. Yet defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory when, apparently at the insistence of the House, items for its members and the Senate were plugged into the ancillary budget bill HB 76 and passed.

The hypocrisy of it all should not escape notice. The House had been stumping for a more fiscally conservative budget and its leaders asserted this as its reason for resisting the more free-spending Senate’s version for so long, but it seems one of the sweeteners to get the House to concur on a plan much closer to the Senate’s version than its was to allow this extra spending into the budget. Thus the presumed chamber of fiscal probity sold out completely and Senate Pres. Joel Chaisson seemingly correctly called the other chamber’s bluff.

Yet the Senate joins the House in a more general hypocrisy in that this was money that could have gone to more important needs when some were being cut dramatically, rather than for city walking paths, band instruments, or cattle fences. The money was siphoned out of the Overcollections Fund, in essence a holding account for presently-unencumbered funds attached to statutory dedications that, depending on circumstances, may in the future be called in to fulfill their legal purposes. So if the Pres. Barack Obama Administration’s war on free enterprise and political point-scoring cause the bankruptcy of BP and thus the flow of compensation to Louisiana, monies that could have gone to dealing with the oil spill instead will not be there courtesy of this gorging at the trough.

While legislator defenders of them say these things represent good causes – meals to the elderly, tourist attractions, educational programs, etc. – and help local governments that can’t finance stuff on their own, the merit of these stands independently of the process that allocates money to them. Why doesn’t the state simply set aside $30 million and create a grant process shielded from political influence that picks the most worthy projects for funding? Because then legislators could not take credit for “giving” something to their districts and the electoral benefits that conveys, but obviously this represents a far more politicized process.

So the brightest silver lining to this low-achieving budget get obliterated. Perhaps Gov. Bobby Jindal will salvage something out of this by liberal use of his veto pen (perhaps spurred by thought of payback, he’ll wipe out $13.6 million of these), but that’s just putting a finger in the hole in the dyke while true reform that would end these slush funds still waits for the light of day.


Mr. Harris Plutocrat said...

Obama's "war on free enterprise"? Jeff, Jeff, Jeff. You are even more caught in the grip of commie-hysteria than I thought. Do you really believe your own flatuent outbursts? Please. There is no "war on free enterprise," Jeff. The insistence that BP pay for the damages that BP causes is not taking a page from Stalin's playbook.

And why do you think that making BP pay for damages (which would only be a fraction of its profits) would cause it to go bankrupt? People like you train yourselves to believe the most outlandish things. People like you think the sky will come crashing down on Louisiana if we make BP pay damages. Your blog is so boring and stupid. Why don't you put together a decent argument rather than just repetitive pouty swipes at the president. Reading your posts is like listening to a teary four-year old who isn't allowed to go to Disney World.

And just to be clear: there is no "war on free enterprise." That's all in your (impressive) imagination. This country is still capitalist. There are no commies anywhere to be seen. (Actually, the very, very, very few commies don't want anything to do with the pro-capitalist president, but you can't grasp the difference between actual communists and non-extremist capitalists). But I guess now we should all be taking economic lessons from Shreveport, Louisiana, the wealthy, shiney metropolis on the horizon that the poor peasants from San Francisco to New York aspire to be like. Here's a thought: maybe your International Society of Political Psychology could do a study on social studies professors with nationalist fantasies, and their ability to delude themselves with the most fantastic conspiracy theories. It would be a great read, for sure.

I.B. Freeman said...


You miss the point completely. Yes there are $30 million in member amendments attached to another bill but the reason is clear. These guys sold out hundred of millions of dollars in spending that Jindal and Chaisson wanted for $30 million in bribes.

How can anyone call Jindal a fiscal conservative any more? His man Chaisson agreed for these amendments to be added to HB76 if the House would vote for the much larger budget he and Jindal wanted. You know the budget using hundreds of millions of dollars in one time money for recurring expenses. Chaisson promised Senate support of HB76 with Jindal's approval.

I am sure some member amendments were left in HB1 so Jindal could have the show of vetoing them but any intelligent person can see that if he vetoed all of them it would represent a minuscule reduction in spending compared to the House of version of HB1 he refused to support.

Come on Jeff. Jindal is a phony fiscal conservative and you know it.

Waterboy said...

Much like Rolfe McCollister, Jeff Sadow is little more than a waterboy for the Jindal Administration. If Gov. Jindal was a true principled conservative and fiscal leader, he would have encouraged the House to reject the Senate amendments, regardless if they got their pet projects funded or not.

Mr. Harris Plutocrat said...

Wow. I was beginning to think that I'm the only one reading this blog.

Anonymous said...

Why do you think he is called "the nutty professor." I mean associated professor. What a kook!