Reporter Adam Nossiter, who takes the South as his beat, again displayed his love for taxes and his hostility towards conservative Southern politicians in Friday's "For Louisiana, Bons Temps Proved All Too Brief,"in which he appears to be enjoying Louisiana's day of financial reckoning a bit too much.
Clearly Nossiter is not overly fond of Bobby Jindal, the Indian-American conservative governor of Louisiana. Nossiter argued that Jindal's victorywasn't a true racial breakthrough because blacks didn't vote for him in an unenthusiastic greeting when Jindal took office in October 2007.
And would Nossiter ever condescend to a Democrat like Barack Obama and refer to him as the Democratic Party's "national pinup" like he did to Jindal?
Six months ago, it was springtime in Louisiana, dollars were raining in from high oil prices, and the tax cuts and highway spending couldn't come fast enough in the euphoric Legislature.
In Louisiana, the oil-drunk always ends badly. This time, though, the political stakes are bigger than in the past, as the Republican Party's national pinup, Gov. Bobby Jindal, has to absorb the brunt of the state's abrupt shift in fortunes. After glorying in the largess earlier this year, Mr. Jindal has gone to issuing sober news releases about hiring freezes and the new austerity.
Admonitions on fiscal prudence went unheeded, as they have so often here, and the bill is now due. Earlier this year there was an $865 million surplus; now Louisiana has a $341 million shortfall in its current-year budget, and next year the projected deficit is $2 billion. It joins 43 states with current and forecast budget gaps in the reckoning of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington research group.
Health care and higher education will probably suffer cuts, the latter perilous in a state that regularly bemoans chronic white-collar outmigration, a trend that touched the governor's own family when his brother moved out of Louisiana. Mr. Jindal recently pointed out that his state was the only one in the South to regularly lose more people than it gained. Now, in the universities that are supposed to be magnets and incubators, faculty positions will go unfilled; academic programs will probably be cut.