Well, well, well.
You just never know what to expect in Lousyana anymore, do you?
Who would have thought that our happy-go-lucky citizenry, usually too preoccupied with fais-do-do and passin’ a good time, would get fighting mad over the legislature’s pay raise issue? I can’t recall anything igniting the fire in state citizens like this before.
But let me tell you, friends and neighbors, from the hills of the north to the bayous of the south, folks is plumb ticked off.
I guess it’s because here we are, paying four bucks a gallon for gas, can’t sell our houses for a decent price, your basic meat and potatoes supper is getting to be a second mortgage affair plus it’s only June and it’s hot as the stinking dickens already. But when the legislature proposed raising their salaries from $16,000 (in the House) a year to $50,000, man, you’d have sworn somebody yelled, "Hey! Somebody been runnin’ mah crawfish traps, cher!"
The lawmakers backed down to $37,000 somehow, but that sure didn’t appease folks much. And Gov. Bobby Jindal’s refusal to veto the raise escalated the general stew of anger into a full-fledged conniption, don’t you see?
The big boys in the legislature threatened Jindal, saying if he put his John Hancock on a veto, he should expect nothing passed in session. That’s a tough pill to swallow for a governor just starting out and bent on reforming everything in state government from ethics laws to jipping the local governments out of capital outlay funds.
It was a much bigger pill that voters couldn’t swallow when they branded Jindal a lying, dishonest politician who has abandoned his campaign promises of "we can, we must, we will" (or whatever the heck it was) in favor of crying "uncle."
When the word "recall" started flying around and the phones of legislators started ringing off the hooks, the Boss Hog of the House went from threatening a bloody coup to meekly promising he’d "respect" anything the governor decided to do or not do on the raise.
What cracks me up most about this silly situation is the lawmakers thought they could vote no on the pay raise then go ahead and take it and nobody would notice.
Uh-uh. The peasants are ready to line them up against the wall most of all!
Now, here’s the real kicker: Just a day or two ago, the Governor was quoted as saying next time "there will be tighter reins on the Legislature."
Stop it! I can’t breathe!
Doesn’t matter, really. No vote of the Legislature should be valid, anyway, because as WAFB-TV reported:
"9NEWS has learned some legislators voted on two, three, or even four machines at a time during this session because other legislators were not in the chamber. Some of them were not even in the state.
"We saw Representative Barbara Norton of Shreveport pushing not one, not two, but three machines on one vote. Then, she directs Representative Rickey Hardy of Lafayette to catch another one she can’t quite reach. This practice of pushing other legislators’ buttons is not new. ‘They used to do it with golf clubs and a putter and things like that. Now, they have more sophisticated clubs to push the buttons,’ says Barry Erwin with the Council for a Better Louisiana."
We can. We must. We will.
Meanwhile, a state that has the gall to call itself the "Sportsman’s Paradise" still hasn’t the brains to properly fund the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
The legislature again failed to dedicate a lousy one-twentieth of a sales tax penny to LDWF. That’s only an additional $40 million a year. The current budget is only $115 million. Gov. Blanco threatened a veto last time, and it died. This time, Jindal essentially did the same. Both governors campaigned on their "outdoorsy" nature to get us hunters and fishermen to vote for them.
"The LDWF has operated primarily on self-generated funds, federal funds and mineral revenue, with essentially no allocation from the state general fund," the Monroe News-Star said. "Future shortfalls in revenues from license sales, mineral royalties and other sources are anticipated."
Are you ready for the bottom line on this? For a $115 million investment, Louisiana’s various wildlife and fisheries activities, recreational and commercial, are rewarding a return of:
That certainly is a good return, but can we do better? The News-Star continued, "The allocation of state general funds to the conservation fund would enable the LDWF to more thoroughly fulfill its mission of habitat conservation/management, biological research, aquatic weed control and enforcement of regulations as well as allow it to more sufficiently address non-game wildlife needs and nuisance wildlife management, scenic rivers, education and outreach, providing fishing and shooting opportunities to under served communities, and other important functions of modern natural resource conservation agencies. Additionally, the LDWF has pressing needs to update its fish hatcheries, regional offices, and facilities on its wildlife management areas, including roads and bridges. Some LDWF buildings are literally falling apart they are so old and worn."
Sportsman’s Paradise, my eye.
Arkansas, by the way, dedicated by voter approval, one-eighth of a cent to their Game and Wildlife Commission which, they say, "has allowed the Commission to address a backlog of maintenance needs and operational needs for the first time in decades, while allocating a large portion to capital improvements and the new nature centers around the State."
How ya like them raises now, brothers and sisters? Don’t matter if you hunt or fish, does it? It’s the sorry state we’re in. Pardon the pun.
They say Arkansas is beautiful this time of year…
One wonders, do certain legislators in Lousyana vote for pay raises to cover the income they’ll lose when the ethics reform package goes into effect?
Things that make you go, "Hmm…"
Truth of the matter is, I might get put in the line against the wall, but I don’t have a problem with a legislative pay raise. The $16,000 for a state legislator is silly. Those guys work year round, if they’re doing their jobs. Somebody’s always calling to solve a problem with DMV or get help with their aunt-ee’s Medicare, find some money to build a sewer plant or park, whatever.
But fifty grand was outrageous. Thirty-seven big ones are still a bit much, but I would have supported something in the $25,000 range if and only if – you are hearing the "if" aren’t you? – they show some real promise in turning this state around. But when you get up there and threaten that if the governor vetoes your perk he’ll not get any bills passed, you don’t deserve the money you’re making right now and need to be thrown down the capitol steps into a barrel of tar and a box of feathers, because what you’re saying is you won’t pass bills for the benefit of the people of Louisiana, and you might as well go home now and don’t ever run for office again.
I still have issues with the increases played out over time, too. But here’s what really irks me: The governor could easily blame his inability to pass bills on the legislature’s stupidity and stubbornness, increasing the public outrage against them, if he vetoed the bill. Can, must, will, yeah. Right.
What we’re dealing with, can’t you see, are grade schoolers pushing each other on the playground. Can, must, will. Oh, yeah.