Thursday, February 19th
NEW LOUISIANA GOVERNOR FACING REALITY!
New Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has jumped head
first into the abyss of state government’s seemingly endless financial problems,
and his popularity is already taking hits.
A recent Southern Media and Opinion Research poll has his popularity
rating at a low 42%.
A UNO poll has
Edwards’ favorables even lower at 34.2%. There is no honeymoon for the guy who
vowed, during his campaign for the state’s highest office, to clean up the mess
created by his predecessor, Bobby Jindal.
What Edwards needs to quickly realize is that in politics,
perception is reality.
He seems to be all
over the map in throwing out a litany of solutions, without first building a
consensus with both legislators and the public at large. New governors
shouldn’t think out loud.
be creating and setting the tone for any public debate, not just jumping into
the public brawl.
Here are a few
examples of “shooting from the hip.”
Before taking office, Edwards announced his choice for
Speaker of the House to be New Orleans Representative Walt Leger.
Traditionally, Louisiana governors have a say
in who the Speaker will be.
generally work behind the scenes building a consensus for their choice.
Edwards did not consult, he just announced.
And did so without the votes needed to elect his pick.
Leger lost by 5 votes.
If a new governor, with all the patronage at
his disposal, cannot come up with 5 votes, he is off to a rocky start.
State government is obviously in the middle of a major
began talking about raising taxes.
new revenue may be needed.
not the first thing that should have been recommended by the new
administration. The average voter thinks, with some justification, that there
is government waste and fat in the budget that can be cut.
Treasurer John Kennedy has been pounding on
the need for budget cuts for some time.
But rather than asking Kennedy to work with the new administration,
Edwards dismissed his suggestions as merely political pandering. The SMOR poll
shows Kennedy as the state’s most popular politician, with a positive rating of
65, which is 43 points higher than the new governor. The public thinks Kennedy
is on the right track.
So if perception
is reality, Edwards is making a mistake by not bringing Kennedy into the
He should have begun the
debate by talking about specific cuts before there is any discussion of new
The new administration missed an early opportunity that
would have brought the general public into the financial mix.
Edwards could have called a special session
his first week in office to endorse one constitutional amendment.
Ask the voters to remove all dedications from
the constitution. Remember that when voters passed the new constitution back in
1973, there were no tax dollars protected.
The idea was to let the legislature set spending priorities each year.
I know this well since future governor Buddy
Roemer and I served as joint chairmen of the revenue committee that wrote this
The state holds its presidential primary on March 5th
so voters could have decided to turn loose some $2.2 billion dollars in
Finally, there is no better example of perception overtaking
reality than the new Governor saying publically that state budget cuts could
put LSU’s football season at risk.
the old Cajun would say, “Cher, dat’s fightin’ words.”
Relating budget cuts and LSU football is
about as incendiary as you can get.
What the new governor fails to recognize is that LSU
football is not just an issue involving students and alumni from the
Watching the Tigers on the
gridiron is a state pastime for even the least educated Louisianan.
James Carville summed it up pretty well when
he said “half the people in Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night can’t even spell
So Governor, you might want to think these problems out a
bit more before airing your opinions and potential solutions publically.
No matter how rough the financial problems become, never mess with dem
“The truth will set you free.
But first, it will piss you off.”
Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout
the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns
and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s
nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am
Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.