Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
Conservatives are hailing Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal as a Republican Barack Obama -- their own brilliant, youthful star who will be ready for the national stage before anyone expected. John Maginnis cautions, however, that tough days may be ahead for Jindal:
Jindal took office with a $1 billion unspent surplus from the Blanco administration, which he and lawmakers promptly spent before rolling up a new surplus of $865 million for the fiscal year just ended. In the current budget, he asked the Legislature to increase state spending by $1 billion. The only cutting he did was of taxes--some that he proposed, some that he took credit for. No wonder, as his national star rose, there were no complaints on the homefront.
It was quite a year, but it is ending early. Even before Jindal can set a plan for spending last year's surplus, he sees the bottom falling out for the year ahead, with a projected deficit of $1.3 billion and the possibility of running out of money before the current budget year ends June 30.
Budget shortfalls aren't always political negatives for governors. Being able to claim that you solved a problem is sometimes a better story than simply coasting off of inherited prosperity. But that's only true, of course, if you do solve the problem.
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