Governor Bobby Jindel
According to the 2011 America’s Health Ranking by the United Health Foundation, Louisiana is ranked as the 49th healthiest state to live in for the second straight year. According to that same study, Louisiana ranks 48th in high school graduations, 48th in occupational fatalities, 48th in infectious diseases, 48th in infant mortality, 48th in premature deaths, and 49th in children in poverty.
These are devastating statistics for any state, but particularly a poor state like Louisiana. These are not statistics that any of us who love this state should be proud of or satisfied with. And yet, we have the governor of the state traveling around the country auditioning for president of the United States on the Republican ticket in 2016, while exclaiming that he is not going to accept Medicaid funds for hundreds of thousands of lower- to middle-class Louisianans who have no health care.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has been feeding at the public trough all of his working life and has never held a private sector job, is showing he has put his party and his ideology ahead of the health and welfare of vast numbers of Louisianans.
I love Louisiana. I was born and raised in this state. It is a great state with great people, but our state is in big trouble economically. And regardless of what Gov. Jindal says, all is not as rosy as the governor would have us to believe. Mr. Jindal has convinced himself that he is presidential material, but he is not. He does not wear well in the broader country. He is not what America is looking for. He may have fooled the people in Louisiana twice, but he will not fool the American people. My advice to Mr. Jindal is to save his money, because he has as much of a chance of being president as I do.
America is not looking for a right-wing ideologue like Bobby Jindal. In fact, the country is not looking for a left-wing ideologue either. This country is split 50/50. Americans are looking for someone who walks the middle line — not left or right. Gov. Jindal has governed as an ideologue who is willing to say or do anything to promote himself and his own personal agenda. He has been running for president since he came into office, and it has hurt the state. He should come home and do his job.
Whoever the next governor of Louisiana is, he or she is going to have to spend their first term straightening out the mess that Jindal and the current legislature — both Democrats and Republicans leave them. Jindal and the Legislature seem to have forgotten who they work for and why they were sent to Baton Rouge. The economic good news that is being fed to the citizens of the state is a mirage.
Now you see it and now you don’t.
Over his term, Jindal has not been a friend of the working class and poor people of this state as evidenced by his turning down Medicaid funding from the Affordable Care Act. It would have helped hundreds of thousands of low- to middle-income people —mostly poor whites and blacks who live in rural and urban areas of the state. These are people who want and need access to affordable health care.
Now this administration is proposing to cut $300 million from higher education. That is crazy. Education is the key to how we are going to change all of the aforementioned problems in this state. We cannot continue to cut education as this governor has done during his two terms in office.
Quality education for our children is the best thing we can do to improve our state. These proposed cuts come on the heels of the governor hiring a new commissioner of education, who will be paid in excess of $400,000 a year. That is 10 times more than a teacher in the classroom in one of the poorest states in the union.
Our politicians — both Democrats and Republicans should be ashamed of themselves for paying a public official this exorbitant amount of money. School teachers in this state have not had a meaningful pay raise in years. We have lost thousands of good teachers because they are not being valued as they should be.
No public official in a state this poor should be paid that kind of money. The people of Louisiana should be outraged. Public education is the one thing that we should all be able to agree about — it should not be cut any more. Access to a good education enhances who we are and strengthens us as a state. It is the only way we are going to compete in this new world. It is past time for Mr. Jindal to come home and do his job. And that’s my take.
Prentiss Smith lives in Shreveport and is a member of the Greater Shreveport Human Relations Commission.
The Roving Reporter