Hard Times for Governors

The New York Times details Jindal’s fiscal mess in Louisiana:

While the leading good-government group, citing [oil] addiction, warned last May against the Legislature’s plan for a $360 million income tax cut, Mr. Jindal called the tax break “terrific news” and happily signed it into law as legislators cheered. Admonitions on fiscal prudence went unheeded, as they have so often here, and the bill is now due. Earlier this year there was an $865 million surplus; now Louisiana has a $341 million shortfall in its current-year budget, and next year the projected deficit is $2 billion.

This speaks to the difficulties facing any governor harboring national ambitions (Jindal, Pawlenty, Sanford, Palin, etc.) over the next few years.  During economic prosperity, governors can simultaneously increase spending and cut taxes, thereby developing a pragmatic reputation.  That can-do attitude builds fodder for an attractive national platform – Bush ran on that record, for example.

However, when a downturn hits, governors must force through a combination of tax hikes and service cuts, palatable to neither side of the aisle.  With these current fiscal constraints, governors can’t rack up an impressive resume usually sought after in a presidential candidate.

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