Conservative Louisiana Fishermen Want to Slash State Spending—but Not on Artificial Reefs

A blog about business and economics.
Sept. 3 2013 1:34 PM

Conservative Louisiana Fishermen Want to Slash State Spending—but Not on Artificial Reefs

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Pray for continued subsidies.

Photo by Cheryl Gerber/Getty Images

While I was down in Louisiana, I happened upon a back issue of Louisiana Sportsman magazine that featured an editorial straight out of the "keep the government's hands off my Medicare" school of conservative hypocrisy. You see, they strongly felt that Louisiana should balance its budget without raising taxes but heaven forbid that spending cuts impact the program aimed at constructing artificial reefs for people to fish with:

Louisiana, like every state in the Union, is facing a budget shortfall. That tends to happen when our nation’s economy, which has always been and always will be cyclical, has a downturn.
As a result, state leaders are scratching and scrounging for nickels wherever they can find them.
But Gov. Bobby Jindal is looking in the wrong place.
While he campaigned and during his time in office, Jindal has pledged repeatedly not to raise taxes. I applaud him for that. States with high tax rates push wealth from their borders (see California, New York and Illinois), and invariably end up worse off in the long run.
Rather than increasing taxation during an economic downturn, the only logical path is to decrease spending. But, oh, how politicians hate to shrink the spending from which they derive their control.
The dimwits in Washington are a perfect example. In order to pay for our now-bloated federal government, current tax rates would have to increase for everyone by 144 percent, according to Heritage Foundation research. Everybody in favor of paying nearly 2 1/2 times your current tax rate, raise your hand!
So Jindal has refused to raise taxes, but he’s also disinclined to make the commensurate cuts. As such, he’s proposing to take money from some dedicated funds, like the state’s Artificial Reef Program.
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They go on to note that one reason the governor is eager to tap dedicated funds is that if you don't go into these things "if a governor wants to balance the budget, he can cut only two areas: education and healthcare." That seems to me like a very good reason. But the whole rest of the article is dedicated to arguing that, no, it's better to cut health care and education than to touch the preciious Artificial Reef Program. Obviously raising taxes is totally off the table. After all, you wouldn't want Louisiana's economy to come to resemble the wreckage of much richer states like Illinois, New York, or California where per capita household income is 25-35 percent higher than in Louisiana.

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