In a rare address televised across the Bayou State last night, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards raised the prospect of taking away a diseased nine-year-old boy’s medical coverage and kicking patients off kidney dialysis machines should the state legislature not support his proposed tax increases.
But his most effective nightmare scenario involved the fate of healthy young men rather than sick seniors and ailing children. Edwards promises to do in 2016 what Auburn, Mississippi State, and Texas A&M could not do in 2015: destroy the LSU Tigers football program.
“Many students will not be able to graduate and student-athletes across the state at those schools will be ineligible to play next semester,” Edwards says if the legislature fails to pass his tax hikes. “That means you can say farewell to college football next fall.”
Why not say farewell to the $3.4 million contract for a consulting group to “provide assistance in developing and executing a strategic marking and communication program” to Louisiana Economic Development or $189,000 to the University of Tennessee for “monitoring the Louisiana Black Bear population; continued health of the population, monitoring adult female survival and [to] continue hair-snare work”? Surely that makes more economic sense than shuttering the nation’s fifth most profitable college football program.
Alas, what makes economic sense does not always make political sense. Football coaches would call this a trap play.
The governor seeks an increase in the sales tax from four to five percent, hikes in gasoline and cigarette taxes, and reductions in various tax credits and corporate deductions. The state faces nearly a billion-dollar budget deficit. Edwards’ tax-increase solution holding the most popular programs hostage rings familiar. So, too, does the culprit he blames: his Republican predecessor caused the calamity.
After laying out frightening scenarios, Edwards insisted: “I don’t say this to scare you,” “These are not scare tactics,” and that he would never “falsely claim ‘the sky is falling.’”
The Kingfish would be proud. Bobby Boucher Jr., on the other hand, would be angry, very angry.