The Other Guys

On Wednesday, there was a debate of the gubernatorial candidates at LSU. Few attended, largely because Gov. Bobby Jindal decided not to show. He skipped the debate because it was put on by the Louisiana Association of Educators, the teachers’ union which has been at war with Jindal since he took office.

Jindal was smart. The folks who took part weren’t exactly serious people.

Jindal’s camp filmed it and cut the tape into some highlights…

The Advocate’s writeup on the subject had this nugget not captured by Jindal’s video from Cary Deaton, one of the Democrats in the race…

Deaton, a lawyer, said nobody has benefited more from higher education than Jindal, who graduated from an Ivy League university in Rhode Island. He accused the governor of increasing tuition, laying off administrators and pulling up the ladder on public colleges and universities upon becoming governor.

Deaton said his first order of business would be to lower college tuition by 10 percent.

Which is 100 percent wrong, of course, as public college tuition in Louisiana is far lower than that of almost every other state, with graduation rates in the dumper – and most who study higher education delivery in the state suggest emphasizing community colleges as a better option for marginal students rather than one or two years and a dropout with no degree and several thousand dollars wasted, which is what a huge proportion of the state’s students end up with.

A tuition cut would only worsen the funding problem for the state’s colleges, as relying on the state’s general fund for their budget has produced a never-ending roller coaster ride which makes it difficult to compete nationally. Deaton would hurt higher education by implementing his plan, not help it.

And there was this, which the video did catch…

Roberts said the state needs to collect a processing fee for seven years on the petrochemical industry. With the revenue, he said, the state could expand a merit-based college scholarship program.

Papazoglakis said she agreed with Roberts that the state’s natural resources are the answer to education funding problems.

“The money is flowing under our feet,” she said.

The processing fee isn’t just a very old idea, it’s a bad one. What’s the point of spending lots of money on higher education when you’re driving away the jobs the products of your higher ed system would need? That’s a great way to feed Texas with a bunch of recent college graduates looking to settle down and start a family.

And on and on it went for better than two hours.

That the Democrat Party in Louisiana wouldn’t put up one single credible candidate for governor – or for that matter, for any of the statewide races – is a disgrace. The state deserved a real choice this fall, regardless of whether Jindal was a shoo-in for re-election. And the assortment of unqualified and unserious people gathered by the teachers’ union don’t present such a choice.

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