August 28, 2008

Bobby Jindal, American Hero

This is one of the reasons I had mixed emotions when Jindal was being considered as a Veep possibility for Johnny Mac: he's just doing such amazing things in Louisiana. I think they still need him to continue the growth and weather the next few storms (literal and metaphorical).

Governor Jindal, in the Wall Street Journal, explaining how he and his team turned Louisiana around:

Three years ago today, Hurricane Katrina battered New Orleans and southeast Louisiana. A few weeks later, Hurricane Rita hit southwest Louisiana, completely demolishing some of our coastal communities. These terrible storms destroyed thousands of small businesses, displaced hundreds of thousands of residents, killed over a thousand people, and caused tens of billions of dollars in property damage.

At the time, many experts predicted Louisiana's economy would never be the same. That's true, though not the way the experts thought: It's getting better.

These storms forced us to rethink our aspirations as a state. We are not just rebuilding the failed institutions of the past -- we are rebuilding smarter.

We streamlined our state recovery processes, cutting red tape, and are pushing federal recovery dollars to local governments to rebuild critical infrastructure, all without forfeiting transparency and accountability. And we continue to focus on helping our hardest-hit communities complete their recovery efforts.

We also moved quickly to increase Louisiana's overall economic competitiveness. Shortly after my inauguration in January, we worked with the state legislature to adopt the strongest governmental ethics laws in the country. Next we eliminated unorthodox business taxes. We also adopted a comprehensive workforce-development reform plan to improve the effectiveness of our community and technical colleges, provide turnkey workforce solutions to expanding and relocating businesses, and ensure that our workforce programs are driven by real business needs.

For the first time in our history, Louisiana has become a hotbed for education innovation. In New Orleans, state and local education leaders are working with national nonprofits and foundations to implement a variety of promising reform efforts, including charter schools and school choice for disadvantaged kids.

While we need to retain and grow our traditional industries, the state also needs to diversify our economy through new, high-growth sectors.

Louisiana is now among the top three states in the country for film productions. We are seeking to match that success in the digital media sector . . .

We are becoming a national leader in the coming global nuclear-energy resurgence, as well. On Tuesday, The Shaw Group and Westinghouse announced that they chose Louisiana for the first manufacturing facility in the U.S. focused on building modular components for new and modified nuclear reactors.

Louisiana is attracting significant investment in mature industry sectors . . . . Edison Chouest Offshore, one of the world's most technologically advanced offshore vessel service companies, recently announced plans to construct a 1,000-job shipyard in Port of Terrebonne, in south Louisiana.

We also have implemented conservative fiscal management practices. For example, a state hiring freeze saved $39 million and led to the elimination of nearly 1,000 state jobs. I vetoed 258 line items in the recently passed state budget, which is more than double the number of vetoes in the past 12 budgets combined. And we ended our state's long-held habit of using one-time revenues to cover recurring expenditures. These efforts helped us to implement the largest personal income tax cut in state history, while freeing up new funds to invest in higher education, transportation, research, health care and coastal restoration.

Thanks in large part to these reforms and our aggressive efforts to attract new business investment, our economy today is strong. Compared to the nation as a whole, Louisiana's economy is growing substantially faster, and our state has considerably lower unemployment levels.

The rest of the country is starting to take notice. Citing strong fiscal management, three major credit-rating agencies -- Moody's, Standard & Poor's, and Fitch -- recently upgraded Louisiana's bond ratings. The Center for Public Integrity noted that Louisiana's new governmental ethics laws regarding legislative disclosure will increase our ranking to first in the country, from 44th. For the first time, U.S. News & World Report ranked LSU in the top tier of its list of America's Best Colleges. And Forbes magazine increased its growth-prospects ranking for Louisiana to 17th from 45th.

Posted by Attila Girl at August 28, 2008 08:44 PM | TrackBack

A cynical person might say that all these changes sound great for the middle class and above, but do little for the poor, many of whom are still in their relocation sites. The apartment buildings are not being rebuilt, the trailers never arrived, houses in poor parishes are not being rebuilt, and they're giving a tax cut?


Posted by: Rin at August 29, 2008 07:15 AM

Glad no one cynical is around here.

Happy Palin Day!

Posted by: Attila Girl at August 29, 2008 10:02 AM

Known mostly for its laissez-faire attitude before Katrina, New Orleans has been defined by its civic activism ever since. And whether the city's repopulation is directly related to such activism or is just a coincidence, figures show that the population is nearly three-quarters of what it was before August 2005. The metro area's unemployment rate is half a percentage point lower than it was before the storm and 1.3 percentage points lower than the nation's. Three years later, there are still some people living in FEMA trailers, but 89 percent of the almost 70,000 trailers the agency delivered to the metro area have now been removed.

Posted by: Darrell at August 29, 2008 01:49 PM

Btw, 200,000 trailers were made available. As a start. But the left-wing disinformation campaign describing them as portable gas(death) chambers because they weren't built to zero offgassing standards(VOCs, etc) kept the number of requests down.

Posted by: Darrell at August 29, 2008 09:02 PM

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