Friday, March 10, 2006


Politics And Pay Raises

by Neil Kavanaugh

According to the Governor’s office, tax revenues are up and the state is going to receive an unexpected $511 million dollar windfall. Estimates call for the state to collect $410 million more than expected by June 30, and an additional $101 for the new fiscal year.

On the surface that seems like good news! After all the state is obliged to begin their payments to FEMA, and other storm related expenses are looming on the horizon. Another $511 million dollars will prevent additional budget cuts in the upcoming session.

Just one little problem ...Governor Blanco wants to use the money to buy political capital, and endear herself to special interest groups before the next election cycle. She believes that she can resurrect her political future if she throws enough of our tax dollars at the problem.

It ain’t gonna happen Kathleen... She started by floating a teacher pay raise, and getting the teacher unions squawking about how low their salary is compared to the national average. Next she got the healthcare folks all worked up by saying the state hospitals were still underfunded. She’s trying to ingratiate herself with these groups to gather votes. In other words, business as usual in Louisiana.

She just doesn’t get it. Few state elected officials do. The hurricanes changed the face of Louisiana forever. This state can no longer survive on the political practices of the past. We cannot remain locked in the bait and switch budget practices of the Edwin Edwards era. The “buy your vote” mentality killed people in New Orleans, and Blanco is using it again, in an attempt to remain in office.

Although she will try, Blanco cannot convince the people of this state that she is anything other than a Forrest Gump Governor. This teacher pay raise, trial balloon, is nothing more than a desperate attempt to cling to a seat she is not qualified to sit in. Our teachers and hospital administrators are being used to bump Blanco’s poll numbers. Let’s hope they are smart enough to see this desperate attempt for what it is, and not fall into the trap.

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