And you thought Jindalnomics was dead as a door nail.
For one year, the Legislature managed to work with a Democratic governor to come up with a compromise budget fix. It wasn’t pretty. But it did happen.
But now Jindal is back — and badder than Arnold ever was. The Louisiana Budget Project called the cuts proposed by the Legislature’s budget committee “Jindal on steroids.”
And just what cuts were proposed? You can probably guess when I tell you it was a case of the usual suspects. But I can get real specific about numbers; proposed cuts were:
— Dept. of Health: $235 million
— Dept. of Child & Family Services: $19.5 million
— Public safety services: $18.5 million
— Education dept.: $18 million or more
— Corrections dept.: $11 million.
This will seem abrupt, but let’s pause for a history lesson. Why does Louisiana have a Democratic governor now?
Well, when Bobby Jindal was governor, he set a U.S. record by cutting $700 million from state universities. And that wasn’t the worst of it.
And why was Louisiana making all these cuts? Well, Bobby Jindal had once signed a silly little pledge by Grover Norquist in which Jindal promised he wouldn’t raise any taxes while he was governor of Louisiana. Now, Jindal levied lots and lots of fees as governor. But Norquist signed off on all these fees, stating they weren’t “really” taxes. Whenever Jindal considered something Norquist decided was a tax, the old cutting ax came out and more of the state budget for health, education and human services was lopped off.
See, Jindal thought Grover Norquist could help make him president of the United States. Ha ha. But it wasn’t Norquist that turned Louisiana against Republicans (for a couple of years). By the time Jindalism had run its course, Jindal’s cuts had shut down so many school programs, health facilities and jails that he had managed to make almost every voter in Louisiana experience a stinging, personal loss.
With the exception of “that which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger,” the intellectual cliche I hate the most is “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It took the Louisiana Legislature exactly one year to forget the eight years of Jindal.
As for the headline, “Jindal Heavy,” it indicates some product that’s quite different from some other product labeled “Jindal Lite.” Some of us may have been hoping for a label that read, “This product contains no Jindal.”
Who Probably Won’t Get Cut
I imagine the prospect of $235 million in health care budget cuts will make a lot of people nervous. But I think one group that won’t be too nervous is the leadership of Louisiana nursing homes.
I say that because I just read a piece by The Advocate’s Stephanie Grace titled, “Nursing homes are faring just fine.”
Grace wrote that “nursing home interests” donated $370,000 to Jindal’s lackluster presidential campaign. Grace quips that “they simply thought he would make a great commander-in-chief.”
But we can’t just point the finger at Jindal for this one. The very same interests, says Grace, have thrown $720,000 Edwards’ way. And Senate President Alario has picked up $220,000 from the group.
Maybe this explains why Louisiana allots 70 percent of its state funding for elder care to nursing homes. Only 23 percent goes to home-based providers.
It’s quite different in the other states, where the split is 60/40. “The gap between us and them is growing, not shrinking,” writes Grace.
At the risk of stating the obvious, this is one more instance in which Louisiana is moving in a direction that’s the exact opposite of the direction the rest of the country is moving in.
Grace says Louisiana nursing homes get $173 per person. That’s an astonishing 54 percent increase over the 2006 total. And you thought nobody in Louisiana got spending increases.
At-home and community care are the future. And if there’s one thing Louisiana doesn’t do, it’s the future.
Money That Could Have Been Saved
The state just spent $5.3 million to have a new bicycle lane painted onto New Orleans’ Tulane Avenue. I just saw a set of photographs by the Times-Picayune of the bicycle lane. I haven’t been so terrified since I watched Saw III.
On Tulane Avenue, small bicycle lanes have been painted in between two lanes of one-way traffic and either a turn lane or a parking lane. That gives bikers the choice of colliding with a truck or SUV that’s turning or a car door that’s opening. Just imagine what’s going to happen when a bicyclist wants to take a left turn at the same time a driver of a Ford F-150 SuperCrew takes one.
I’ve seen bicycle lanes that were designed and built to prevent bicyclists from colliding with vehicles. I may have to take a long, long trip if I want to see them again.
Are You High? Tech
The Collision Convention recently held at the Morial Convention Center in N.O. promoted itself as the fastest growing tech convention in the U.S. The N.O. Gambit’s Kat Stromquist went to check it out.
Stromquist’s conversation with the nearly human-sized robot Pepper sounded fun. Pepper went out of his way to be affable. He helped Kat write a song, then played back an electronic rendition of it.
Other features of the program sounded a little more, well, silly. For example, there was an autonomous drone made in Japan that delivers beverages (usually cans of beer) to golfers on the golf course.
If that seems frivolous, consider the Flipsnap app, which “allows users to seamlessly merge themselves into videos with their favorite bands.” Yeah, that’s certainly the greatest homage I could pay the Ramones.
And then there’s the DailyMind app, which promises to enable its users to “create memes.” Wow! If that one really works, I’ll finally be able to cross the last item off my bucket list!
Of course, many offerings were of genuine interest. A representative from Quanergy says its LIDAR sensor will be the equivalent of the human brain in the device it’s building to drive cars. The LIDAR will be the size of a pack of cigarettes. Production is slated for 2025.
Stromquist says that even the makers of affable robots got nervous when he asked them about the effects of robotics on the future of U.S. labor. He also waxes philosophical on a Collision panel discussion on the effect of the internet on U.S. society in the era of Trumpism. After all, this is a Gambit piece, and it doesn’t exactly make for light reading. But if it’s aroused your curiosity, you can find it at bestofneworleans.com by searching for “The Future is Now: Robots, self-driving cars and a moon settlement at Collision.”
Nonexistent Problem Causes Existent Problem
Almost every adult in Southwest Louisiana will tell you with absolute certainty and confidence — not to mention calmness — that climate change doesn’t exist. It’s a myth.
The non-existent climate change is forcing the residents of the tiny Isle de Jean Charles community to move out. As I’m writing this, sea water is covering their land. The U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development has given these people a grant of $48.3 million to move somewhere else. Some are moving; and, according to the Times-Picayune, some are still trying to figure out things they can do that will enable them to stay.
Since these climate changes don’t exist, it’s unlikely that they will force members of additional Louisiana communities to move. But in the event it does happen again, the Up Fronter will do his journalistic duty to report the impossible.
When La. News Went Sports-Free
The Up Fronter has strongly suggested in the past that no matter what is going on in Louisiana or the world at large, the news feeds of most Louisiana media will be mainly about sports. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is or what time of the day or night.
I think that on May 3, I may have figured out how to (effectively) eliminate sports from the news feed (and get it back on the sports feed).
Start off by having the media learn that no federal charges will be filed against the policemen in the Alton Sterling shooting. However, the media also knows that no one is talking about when the official announcement will be made or where it will come from. As a result, every Baton Rouge politician with the least connection to law enforcement scrambles around the city, looking for the announcement site. They’re all carrying big, open umbrellas because the city is about to be hit by a monster storm. And all the photographers are out taking pictures of all the politicians with their big umbrellas.
Meanwhile, the monster storm is hitting most of south Louisiana hard enough to close down roads and schools. And the few empty news slots that might still be occupied by sports stories are replaced by the Legislature’s debate on a bill to stop the removal of Confederate monuments.
So, if all that stuff happens on a single day, you can read news instead of sports when you read Louisiana news.
“Game of Thrones spinoffs are one step closer to reality” — headline in Twitter Moments, May 4.
“New ‘Game of Thrones’ series in development” — No. 1 headline of CNNMoney, May 5.
“Check out BEAU DAWSON Double Breasted Belted Trench Cotton Lined Coat Women’s Size M” — Baton Rouge Local, May 5. And yes, that was a headline. (As they say on Twitter, “No longer following.”)
“Kristen Bell helps teen get a prom date” — CNN headline, May 5.
“Ian Somerhalder and Nikki Reed are expecting” — another headline from the unusually hard-hitting news edition of CNN for May 5.
The Galaxy’s In Trouble
On my Twitter feed, I just saw a photo from the new movie Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. One of the guardians is a woman with extremely pale green skin. Another of the guardians is a raccoon.