Summary of the Louisiana State of the State Address
By Stateline Staff
During his state of the state address to the Legislature March 29, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal called on lawmakers to improve accountability in schools, to retool health care funding and, above all, to not raise taxes.
"Every time I can remember in our state's history, whenever we have faced fiscal challenges, our state has done one of two things: we've either raised taxes on our people or we've expanded gambling," Jindal said. "We will not, we must not do that in facing the challenges we face today."
Instead, the governor focused on demanding better results in education and health care. He noted that Louisiana has doubled higher education spending in the last decade, but the state still has the second-lowest graduation rate in the South.
In primary and secondary education, Jindal called for more flexibility for local schools, as long as they showed improvement on test scores. He also pushed for a shift in the programs the state uses to encourage high school drop-outs to learn job skills.
Jindal, who delivered the Republican response to President Obama's speech to Congress in February 2009, also attacked the federal government. He specifically criticized Washington for piling up debt and passing onerous mandates to states in the recently enacted health care overhaul.
"That is not a sustainable model," he told members of the Democratic-controlled Legislature. "And there are states across this country that have attempted this model. There are states unlike Louisiana that have tried to solve their budget challenges by raising taxes on the backs of their families and their businesses. And the result is those states, many of those states, they're economies aren't doing as well as Louisiana's."
Jindal said the health care overhaul would eventually cost Louisiana $345 million a year and expand the state's Medicaid rolls by 360,000. He said he "applauded" legal challenges to the new laws.