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Gov. Jindal and the Louisiana GOP say No to health care solutions

June 10, 2009

At the start of the current legislative session, Gov. Bobby Jindal called for bipartisanship and “Louisiana solutions.” Yet yesterday at the Capitol, the Jindal administration tried three different maneuvers to kill HB 889, the Louisiana Healthier Families Act. The Louisiana Healthier Families Act would reduce our youth smoking rate and generate upwards of $127 million a year for health care – and it enjoys bipartisan support in the Legislature.

That hasn’t stopped Gov. Jindal and Louisiana Republican Party chairman Roger Villere from opposing the bill at every turn, despite offering no alternatives.

“Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana Republican Party march lockstep with the national GOP’s “party of no” approach – no new ideas, no leadership and no solutions,” says Chris Whittington, chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “At a time when Louisiana faces the challenge of serious budget cuts to health care, why is Gov. Jindal so opposed to an open debate and vote on legislation that would reduce teen smoking and secure funding to offset cuts in health care?”

A recent poll done by the Mellman Group shows about three out of four Louisianans support the Louisiana Healthier Families Act. (That included 72 percent of both Democrats and Republicans and 67 percent of independents supporting the proposal.) Today, The Advocate newspaper ran an editorial urging the Legislature to support the Louisiana Healthier Families Act.


Will Gov. Jindal and U.S. Sen. Vitter condemn Newt Gingrich’s offensive remarks at today’s forum with Gingrich?

June 1, 2009

Gov. Bobby Jindal and U.S. Sen. David Vitter are scheduled to attend former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s New Orleans forum today — less than one week after Gingrich called President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor racist.

Last week, Gingrich wrote on Twitter, “Imagine a judicial nominee said ‘my experience as a white man makes me better than a Latina woman’ new racism is no better than old racism … White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw.”

Gingrich’s remarks have already been repudiated by Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Cornyn told NPR, “I think it’s terrible. This is not the kind of tone that any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advice and consent.”

“Gov. Jindal and David Vitter should condemn Newt Gingrich’s offensive, shameful remarks,” says Chris Whittington, chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Will they join Senator Cornyn in defending Judge Sotomayor, or will they stay silent in support of Gingrich’s inappropriate and divisive remarks?”

Calls for Gov. Jindal to honor his transparency pledge reach fever pitch

May 11, 2009

As Gov. Bobby Jindal continues his all-out efforts to shield his records from the public, Louisiana media are pointing out Jindal’s hypocrisy. In news stories and editorials from across the state, the calls for Jindal to honor his campaign promise of transparency are reaching fever pitch.

“It’s time for Gov. Jindal to stop stonewalling the public,” says Louisiana Democratic Party Chairman Chris Whittington. “Government transparency is not a partisan issue, and Louisiana citizens deserve to know how their governor is conducting the state’s business.”

Highlights from recent coverage of Jindal’s lack of transparency:

The Times-Picayune – Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal should back transparency for all – including himself

In opposing reform, Gov. Jindal is going against his campaign promise to “upgrade Louisiana’s sunshine laws to improve access to public records and meetings.” … If Gov. Jindal truly wants transparency and accountability for all government officials, including his own office, then he should support the proposals by Rep. Waddell and Sen. Adley — and so should lawmakers.”

Shreveport Times: Governor’s office needs more sunshine

A PAR survey of states found only four governors with considerable discretion in determining what records are open to the public. However, none statutorily grants a public records exception as broad as the one for Louisiana’s governor. …

But what’s up with exempting the governor’s schedule, as SB 278 would? Particularly for a governor who travels so much, both to advance the state and his own political future. Knowing who the governor is meeting with, who is trying to influence him, goes to the heart of government transparency, said one media advocate.

…But it’s hard to hold government accountable when we can’t see what government is doing.”

WWL-TV: Lawmakers pushing to free up governor’s records

Critics like Eyewitness News political analyst Clancy DuBos believe it could actually create new loopholes that would decrease public access. “Well this is a continuation of what Bobby Jindal did a year ago,” DuBos said. “Ethics are for everybody else. For the governor, for himself, he wants exceptions. He wants nobody to know, no exposure, no transparency, no openness. That’s all for the legislature and everybody else.”

The Daily Advertiser: State GOP Chair playing politics

It matters because [Louisiana GOP chairman] Villere has made a mockery of the public records laws – the very foundation of our democracy. Without them, other statutes are meaningless. Even criminal statutes carry little weight if the ultimate check and balance of public oversight of our government, courts and law enforcement entities does not exist.

These laws aren’t partisan.

They never have been. They never should be. As the presumptive leader of state Republicans and a rising star in his party nationally, Jindal should publicly show that he does not condone Villere’s behavior.

The Times-Picayune’s James Gill: For lawmakers, a question of trust in Jindal

[Jindal’s] hypocrisy over “transparency” is merely the tip of the iceberg. He is going around the country raising campaign money as the man who reduced the tax burden in Louisiana while imposing a “gold standard” of ethics on government officials. Legislators know this is pure flim flam.

The Advocate: Open should mean open

Overshadowing much of the debate during the first two weeks of the Louisiana Legislature’s regular session is the question of whether the governor’s office should have to follow the same rules as other elected officials and publicly disclose its records.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, who campaigned on transparency, says no. …

Jindal is invoking, through Faircloth, a deliberative process executive privilege first articulated by former Vice President Dick Cheney. … Cheney’s stance, now Jindal’s stance, suggests an executive who, for whatever reason, has staked a position that cripples the ability of the other branches to check and balance his power.

Jindal administration hammered by their own: “Be leaders, and not just philosophers”

April 28, 2009

As Gov. Bobby Jindal continues to march in lockstep with the national Republican Party, some members of the Louisiana GOP continue to question Jindal’s priorities and leadership. Republican state Rep. Hollis Downs isn’t happy with the Jindal administration’s lack of communication and vision. From the Times-Picayune:

The Republican author of a bill to let the state’s fuel tax rise with the inflation rate pulled his measure from consideration at a committee hearing this morning after criticizing Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration for its lack of support.

House Bill 456 by Rep. Hollis Downs, R-Ruston, sought to make the first major change in two decades in the state’s 20-cent per gallon tax on gasoline, diesel and other fuels. …

Downs said he wished the governor’s office, even if it opposed the bill, would have been willing to offer long-term plans for meeting the state’s transportation project expenses. He called on Jindal’s team “to be leaders, and not just philosophers.”

Gov. Jindal secretly tells Republican legislators: I regret vetoing your pay raise

April 28, 2009

In his speech yesterday to open the 2009 Louisiana legislative session, Gov. Bobby Jindal said he’d made some “past mistakes.” But while Jindal did not elaborate on those mistakes in his speech, he did privately tell his Republican colleagues one of his mistakes: vetoing their pay raises.

From today’s Town-Talk:

Some lawmakers acknowledged that the governor recently told a meeting of the Republican legislative delegation that he regretted vetoing the [pay] raise.

Jindal’s hypocrisy knows no bounds. After flip-flopping on the issue, he told Louisiana citizens he was opposed to the pay raise — but in a closed-door meeting with Republican colleagues, he told them he regrets his veto. Our governor sure has a twisted definition of transparency.

Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Committee passes statement of support for Employee Free Choice Act

April 14, 2009

The Louisiana Democratic Party’s Executive Committee has passed a statement of support for the Employee Free Choice Act.

“The Employee Free Choice Act gives employees the chance for better health care, benefits and pensions,” says Chris Whittington, chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “In today’s tough economy, workers deserve more choices, and the Employee Free Choice Act offers just that. Workers should have the freedom to choose collective bargaining so they can bargain for a better life.”

Workers with the collective bargaining capabilities of a union earn 30 percent more wages and are 60 percent more likely to have health care.

Stewart Acuff, assistant to the president of the national AFL-CIO and an architect of the Employee Free Choice Act, will be in Louisiana on Thursday, April 16, and will debate LABI Chairman of the Board E. Fred Preis at noon at the League of Women Voters luncheon in Baton Rouge. The luncheon is at Drusilla’s Seafood Restaurant; for more info on the luncheon or to purchase tickets, call 225-344-3326 or e-mail



Gov. Bobby Jindal’s new idea in education

March 25, 2009

At a speech last night in Washington, D.C. during his latest out-of-state fundraising junket, Gov. Bobby Jindal offered his thoughts on education.

Speaking to the National Republican Campaign Committee, Jindal said, “The left hasn’t had a new idea on education since the invention of the chalkboard.”

And what is Gov. Jindal’s new idea for Louisiana education? Cutting $219 million from Louisiana’s colleges and universities. While Governors Mike Foster and Kathleen Blanco made higher education a priority for moving Louisiana forward, Gov. Jindal will be the first Louisiana governor in more than a decade to make severe cuts to education. University presidents and faculty across Louisiana have warned that Gov. Jindal’s budget cuts would have a crippling effect on higher education.

“Education isn’t a partisan issue, and Gov. Jindal’s words and actions on this issue are hurting Louisiana,” says Chris Whittington, chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

Jindal’s education cuts are another example of the governor’s hypocrisy. In a speech to the Louisiana Legislature last March, Jindal said, “We must also invest in our institutions of higher education.”

“Louisiana families and students deserve a governor who makes quality education a priority for everyone – and cutting higher education sends a terrible message about Louisiana’s priorities,” says Whittington.

Gov. Jindal denies unemployment benefits to Louisianians, but charges $1,000 for a cup of coffee at campaign fundraiser

March 25, 2009

Gov. Bobby Jindal has left Louisiana behind again, this time for two days as he attends four campaign fundraisers in Washington, D.C.

Jindal’s latest fundraising junket comes as he continues to play partisan politics with struggling Louisiana workers’ unemployment benefits, as the governor claims he will not accept $98 million in federal unemployment assistance from President Barack Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. With Louisiana’s unemployment rate approaching 6 percent and 12,000 Louisiana workers losing their jobs in January alone, Gov. Jindal is focused instead on Beltway special interests. Jindal is charging a $1,000 minimum contribution for a cup of coffee at one of his Washington, D.C. fundraisers today.

“Since he spends so much of his time out of state trying to grab campaign cash, Gov. Jindal is out of touch with the serious challenges facing Louisiana and our state’s workers,” says Chris Whittington, chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “Gov. Jindal needs to stop politicking and start governing, and not turn his back on Louisianians who need help the most.”

It doesn’t get any clearer than this

March 23, 2009

The New York Times has previously pointed out Gov. Bobby Jindal’s partisan and ill-informed stance on rejecting $98 million in federal unemployment benefits for struggling Louisianians. But as Jindal’s posturing continues and the facts keep piling up that clearly refute his argument, NYT returns to Jindal’s hypocrisy. Highlights:

Republican governors who have been threatening to refuse federal aid rather than sensibly expand state unemployment insurance programs are putting ideology ahead of the needs of their constituents.

The two most prominent grandstanders — Rick Perry of Texas and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana — should listen to lawmakers and taxpayers in their own states who are demanding that they do what’s best for their most vulnerable citizens. …

The claim by some governors that the unemployment aid would lead directly to tax increases has also been discredited. New taxes are triggered automatically when unemployment trust funds fall below specified levels. In many cases, filling their coffers with stimulus aid would actually postpone tax increases. When the stimulus money is spent, states would also be free to revert to the old unemployment insurance laws. …

The time has clearly passed for posturing. With large numbers of people losing their jobs, Mr. Jindal and Mr. Perry need to do what is best for their states and their struggling workers.

Read the whole editorial here.

More uprising over Gov. Jindal’s decision to turn down $98 million in unemployment benefits for Louisiana

March 19, 2009

On the steps of the State Capitol Wednesday, another group of Louisiana citizens voiced their strong opposition to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decision to turn down $98 million in unemployment benefits for the state. Led by AFL-CIO and United Steelworkers representatives, the gathering showed how real lives are being affected by our struggling economy – and why unemployment benefits are crucial to helping people who need help the most.

Mark Jones, 49, and Hal Mims, 52, attended the news conference. Both were laid off last week by Weyerhaeuser, a Dodson plant in Winn Parish that produced veneer. They said the governor should not reject unemployment benefits when people are losing their jobs.

Full coverage here from The Advocate, as well as video from NBC33-TV here.