Bobby Jindal’s ‘Embarrassing’ Budget Tricks
Policy + Politics

Bobby Jindal’s ‘Embarrassing’ Budget Tricks

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback just suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of his fellow Republicans in the State Legislature when he pressed them to approve a moderate tax increase that would help the state deal with its massive budget crisis. He might have avoided that fate if he’d looked to the south and taken a lesson from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. 

Jindal this week bullied lawmakers into approving a budget that jacks up the state’s tax revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars but relies on a transparently bogus set of “tax credits” that nobody will ever see to remain “revenue neutral.” 

Related: States Keep Using ‘Gimmicks’ to Balance Their Budgets 

With the announcement of his candidacy for president expected later this month, the ability to make the claim, however disingenuous, that he had not raised taxes is essential to Jindal. He achieved it through a complicated plan that assesses a $1,600 fee on students in the state’s higher education system. However, the students will receive a refundable “tax credit” offsetting the fee that is payable not to them but to the state university system. 

Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy told The New York Times, “Everyone knows it’s nonsense.” But, he added, “It’ll make him happy, and we can always come back and get rid of it.” 

“I would love if we could do it another way," Rep. Chris Broadwater, a Republican state representative, told the Times-Picayune newspaper. “I am going to be embarrassed [by this vote] when I go back home.” 

Related: Congress’s Favorite Gimmicks for Disguising Spending 

And Broadwater, for the record, was one of the measure’s strongest supporters. 

Outside of the state government, opinions were even harsher. Commenting on what he described as Jindal’s “disgraceful fiscal legacy” and his presidential ambitions in a Times-Picayune column, Louisiana State University Professor Robert Mann, former communications director for Jindal’s predecessor Kathleen Blanco, wrote: “His ineptitude with budgets alone should disqualify him from supervising a small-town Dairy Queen, much less managing the U.S. government's executive branch.” 

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