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“They’ve used all the smoke that was in the can and all the mirrors that they could buy and now they’re out of tricks,” opines Treasurer John Kennedy about the economic policies implemented by the Bobby Jindal Administration.
Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Indian immigrants, Jindal studied for a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Public Policy at Brown University and then at Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar.
From being the youngest man to become a United States governor in 2008 to leading the massive downfall of the state of Louisiana, Jindal has come a long way in this eventful journey.
With the exception of his first year in office, 2008, Jindal has constantly faced state financial shortfalls.
Louisiana’s budget shortfall is projected to reach $1.6 billion next year and is expected to remain in that zone for a while. The already momentous problem has been further aggravated by the plunge in oil prices, forcing midyear cuts in the current budget.
“The shortfall next year is almost entirely due to the declining revenues, and the vast majority of that is due to falling oil prices,” said Jindal in an interview to NBC.
Economists, however, have a different tale to tell. They point out that next year’s projected shortfall was well over a billion dollars even when oil prices were high. They argue that the fiscal policy pushed by the Jindal administration, backed by the State Legislature is the only reason to blame for the massive shortfalls.
Due to Jindal’s chaotic and myopic policies, Louisiana has only jumped from one end of the budget crisis loop to another. Hence, there hasn’t been any real improvement.
There have only been efforts to hide this loop from the public eyes.
He put together money from one-time legal settlements and property sales, using it to pay for continuing programs. This further ensured the continuation of the crises. The dollars either don’t pan out or the sources of financing end, resulting in a crucial need for replacement.
Such a mechanism was flawed from the onset itself. The continuation of important programmes was based on the ambiguous possibility of the state receiving money through unreliable sources.
It was a move that, sooner rather than later, had to fail.
“Our budget has been full of sleights of hand — it’s almost a Ponzi scheme of moving moneys around, one-time money around, to serve recurring needs,” said Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, one of the Republican aspirants hoping to become Louisiana’s next governor, at a recent forum.
The only successful reduction in the spending was done by cutting more than 30,000 full-time state employees, reducing the state’s vehicle fleet, privatizing much of the Medicaid program, and giving the state’s charity hospitals to outside managers.
Evidently, Jindal has resorted to what seems to be his favourite measures for rectifying mistakes: ‘short-term’ solutions that pose humongous threats for the future. Economic development deals will cost the next governor at least $340 million over his first four years.
Talking about his own record, Jindal claims of having reduced the budget from $34 million to $28 million. What he has been reluctant to explain is the mechanism he used to create that reduction. Much of the drop was induced by expenditure of the one-time federal recovery dollars after hurricane Katrina and Rita.
Here’s what Jindal’s office says about his record as a tax-cutter:
“Since taking office, Governor Bobby Jindal has cut taxes a total of six times, which included the largest income tax cut in the state’s history – giving back $1.1 billion over five years to the hard working tax payers across the state, along with accelerating the elimination of the tax on business investment, making Louisiana no longer one of only three states in the country that taxes manufacturing machinery.
Moreover, when the state faced a $341 million budget shortfall, Governor Jindal chose to make state government more lean by finding strategic costs savings in the budget, rather than making across the board cuts or passing the bill on to taxpayers.”
“Finding strategic cost savings in the budget” has only meant moving money from one source to another to cover the structural inadequacies in the budget. If sufficient concentration was centred around computing real measures, Louisiana’s future would have been less darker than it is today.
“Everybody says, ‘Oh, you’re using one-time money.’ I tell people that say that, ‘Well, tell me what you want to cut. Is it higher education? Or is it health care? What university do you want to close?’ The truth is, from a political standpoint, that’s not possible”, said Jack Donahue, a Republican who is also the Senate Finance Committee Chairman.
According to reports, funding for higher education and health care services will almost certainly be subject to cuts higher than the ones that have already been endured in recent years.
The funding gap is so large that state officials have warned of being unable be to conduct the usual Advanced Placement tests and other types of assessments in schools next year. The problem has reached to such an extent that some public colleges and universities might even have to close.
This entire scenario links directly to the 2016 Presidential Elections. The general public view about Jindal’s policies directly hints to the fact that far from recognizing the problem, Jindal has become the problem
The basic question looming over his position is, why should a governor who drove Louisiana into a state of economic turmoil, be entrusted with the responsibility of leading the United States of America?
NEW DELHI - India Navy sending four ships for exercises and port visits with the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, its navy said Wednesday, as China's maritime power grows in the area.
The Indian ships will spend more than two months in the region, the navy said in a statement.
Commander Vivek Madhwal, the Indian navy spokesman, said four ships will take part.
The ships will also participate in a multilateral exercise, MALABAR-21, along with the Japanese, Australian and U.S. navies, the statement said.
It said the exercises will enhance coordination with friendly countries, based on common maritime interests and a commitment to freedom of navigation.
"Besides regular port calls, the task group will operate in conjunction with friendly navies to build military relations and develop interoperability in the conduct of maritime operations," the statement said.
The U.S., India, Japan and Australia are part of the Quad regional alliance created in response to China's growing economic and military strength. Washington has long viewed New Delhi as a key partner in efforts to blunt increasing Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
India is also in a continuing standoff with China over their disputed border in the eastern Ladakh region. The countries have stationed tens of thousands of soldiers backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets along their de facto border, called the Line of Actual Control.
Last year, 20 Indian troops died in a clash with Chinese soldiers involving clubs, stones and fists in a portion of the disputed border. China said it lost four soldiers.(VOA/HP)
The UK government on Thursday announced that it will move India from the red to the amber list on Sunday, in the country's latest update to the 'Red-Amber-Green' traffic light ratings for arrivals into England amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This means the visit visas for the UK from India are open, in addition to other long-term visas that have remained open. But travellers from India arriving in England can complete a 10-day quarantine at home or in the place they are staying (not mandatorily quarantine in a managed hotel).
The UK government also announced that arrivals from France to England will no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. The step aligns France with the rest of the amber list now that the proportion of beta variant cases has fallen, where those who are fully vaccinated with a vaccine authorised and administered in the UK, the US or Europe do not need to quarantine when arriving in England.
This move also simplifies the system to three categories, as well as the green watch list to give travellers notice where green status is at risk.
To continue cautiously reopening international travel, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway will be added to the government's green list, having demonstrated they posed a low risk to UK public health.
Besides India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will also be moved from the red to the amber list, as the situation in these countries has improved.
The data for all countries will be kept under review and the government will not hesitate to take action where a country's epidemiological picture changes, a statement by the UK government said.
Following an assessment of the latest data, Georgia, La Reunion, Mayotte and Mexico will be added to the red list as they present a high public health risk to the UK from known variants of concern, known high-risk variants under investigation or as a result of very high in-country or territory prevalence of Covid-19.
Arrivals from Spain and all its islands are advised to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible, as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we've made through our successful vaccination programme, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world.
"While we must continue to be cautious, today's changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public."
Since February, anyone who arrives in the UK from a red list country has been required by law to book a stay in a managed quarantine facility for 10 days.
In order to ensure taxpayers are not subsidising the costs of staying in these facilities, which have gone up, the cost will increase from August 12. Alternative payment arrangements remain available to those who genuinely cannot afford to pay and rates remain the same for children up to 12.(IANS/HP)
A Hindu temple in Pakistan's Punjab province was reportedly vandalized by hundreds of people after a nine-year-old Hindu boy, who allegedly urinated at a local seminary, received bail, a media report said on Thursday.
According to the Dawn news report, the incident took place on Wednesday in Bhong town, about 60 km from Rahim Yar Khan city.
Besides the vandalization, the mob also blocked the Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5), the report added.
Citing sources, Dawn news said that a case was registered against the minor on July 24 based on a complaint filed by a cleric, Hafiz Muhammad Ibrahim, of the Darul Uloom Arabia Taleemul Quran.
The sources said that "some Hindu elders did tender an apology to the seminary administration saying the accused was a minor and mentally challenged".
But, when a lower court granted him bail a few days ago, some people incited the public in the town on Wednesday and got all shops there closed in protest, the report quoted the sources as further saying.
A video clip showing people wielding clubs and rods storming the temple and smashing its glass doors, windows, lights, and damaging the ceiling fans went viral on social media.
In response, one Twitter user said: "Ganesh Temple, village Bhong in Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab has been ravaged. Another day, another attack on Hindus in Pakistan."
Another said: "Yesterday, the mob ran amok at Temple over minor boy issue who allegedly urinated, the boy said to be mentally handicapped. Hindu community made an apology for the boy — a case registered against the nine-year-old boy. Those vandalized temples, no FIR registered against them."
District police spokesman Ahmed Nawaz Cheema said Rangers had been deployed in the troubled area and the situation was under control.
A small town close to the River Indus and Sindh-Punjab border, Bhong houses a number of gold traders who originally hail from Ghotki and Dehrki (Sindh), according to the Dawn news report.
A ruling PTI member representing the minority said he had been in touch with the local Hindu community and influential Rais family of Bhong since the issue surfaced.