From the Daily Wipe comes this article, talking about the upcoming legislative session and the need for money to fund the state's activities. Governor Blanco wants to raise sin taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, and gambling to fund the shortfall.
I call bullshit. This state has never had a stable funding base, and taxing these "sins" won't help in the long run. For example, I am a smoker, preferring cigarettes, but much increased cost in my cigarette habit will give me added incentive to quit smoking, which is a good idea for a number of health reasons. I don't gamble, I drink very little, and these taxes won't affect me at all. I suspect that if cigarettes are taxed an additional 50 cents per pack, a great number of smokers will quit.
So here is the question: if they tax these "sins" enough, more and more people will curb their appetite for these "sins". Why not put the state on a firm financial footing? It seems to me that getting it right the first time is important.
To my way of thinking, the state only has four real reasons for governing. They are:
1. Public Safety and Corrections. We need police to protect and serve the public at all levels, municipal, parish and state. We need prisons to contain the violent predators that prey on our citizens.
2. Road and bridge maintenance and construction. Roads and bridges are the economic engine of the state. We need to maintain what we have and build better roads. This is probably the most important economic work the state can do.
3. Public health care. We need the Charity system to provide health care to our most vulnerable citizens. I don't realistically think that we are ever going to rid ourselves of public health care. We need to monitor it closely to insure that only those who need it are able to use it.
4. Education. We need to educate our children, but not in the manner we are educating them now. Schools need to get leaner, stronger, and focused on results that prepare our children for the future. What we do NOT need are bloated bureaucracies. Divide the total education budget by the number of students and issue vouchers to every child. Let the parents decide where the children attend school, whether it be public or private. Those schools that can't attract students will close. Those schools that provide the best value will thrive. The other ones will close. As to busing, that needs an overhaul, too. Buses should take a child only to the closest school that teaches the appropriate grade. Any other choices the parents make should factor in private transportation.
SO, my guidance to the legislature. Use the above list as a working document and keep your nose out of places it doesn't belong. Damn the Saints, damn the golf courses, damn everything but the above four areas until our budget is in the black.