The Place for Government Reform ...

Tue, 01 Apr 2008 13:30:48 +0000

... is apparently Louisiana, as Governor Jindal receives high praise from the Times Picayune's editorial board.

The Legislature begins Monday a three-month regular session that provides a chance to continue pushing for reforms, this time on issues ranging from fiscal policy to workforce training.

Lawmakers need to make the most of the opportunity.

The session's centerpiece is Gov. Bobby Jindal's $30 billion inaugural budget. The details are still being worked out, as individual departments take their funding requests through the legislative hearing process. But the broad policies in the governor's first spending plan are encouraging.

Taking a different course from the previous administration, Gov. Jindal proposes to cut in half, from $800 million to $420 million, the state's dependence on the surplus to pay for recurrent expenses. His blueprint also would shrink the bloated state bureaucracy by eliminating more than 1,300 vacant jobs.

These are significant steps to move Louisiana in a responsible fiscal direction. They would begin preparing the state for the likelihood that revenues may level off or even fall once the post-hurricane economy cools down.

These policies complement the recent decision from the administration and legislators to spend most of the leftover surplus from the last fiscal year in long-term investments such as roads, flood protection and coastal restoration.

In its budget proposals, the Jindal administration also is promising to post on-line specific information on recipients and the uses of line-item appropriations, shedding light on a vehicle some lawmakers have used in the past to benefit pet groups with nebulous purposes. Giving the public easy access to that data is important.

Read the whole thing, and watch the new governor closely. His star is still rising.