Jindal Sneaks In A Spending Freeze Over The Weekend
Gov. Bobby Jindal issued a spending freeze for Louisiana's executive branch late Friday night.
The freeze — set to be in place until June 30 — affects new hires and budget line items. But the order includes 25 exemptions. Some are clear-cut, like emergency disaster funding, while the exemption for "all budget activities directly necessary for a statewide elected official to perform his or her constitutional functions" is less defined.
The 6:30 p.m. press release issued as the weekend began seemed to some a strategic move to sidestep media coverage.
KPEL's Dr. John Sutherlin — who's also a political science professor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe — says the move is more symbolic than actual.
"It freezes future expenditures, but almost all of these are reoccurring encumbrances," Sutherlin said. "What's the net effect? The reason we got here in the first place is because of these expenditures that we already had going on."
The administration was able to avoid mid-year budget cuts for the first time in six years, but not without fail: LaPolitics broke the news last week that a calculation error caused a $47 million shortfall in the state's operating budget.
Sutherlin said issuing a spending freeze instead of mid-year cuts is a strategic move. If the governor can balance the budget for Louisiana without the cuts, he explained, the perceived accomplishment resonates well for the potential 2016 presidential contender.
"Every move Jindal makes, think of it as: How does this fit within a national agenda?" Sutherlin said.