When Bobby Jindal was running for the governorship in 2007, he said all the right things during an interview with this magazine. He claimed kinship with the sportsmen of this state, and promised that his children would “grow up and treasure” the natural resources of this great state.
And he was convincing enough to gain the support of Louisiana Sportsman in his bid to be the state’s chief executive.
“(Jindal has) promised to protect the lifestyles we cherish … and appoint persons in charge of decision-making at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries who love the outdoors and want to serve,” we wrote in an October 2007 endorsement. “He knows that adequate and reliable monies are needed to run LDWF, and wants to find a way to use General Fund revenues to achieve our long-range plans to protect and enhance our legacy.”
It’s hard to believe the man who sits in the governor’s office today is the same one who made those promises six years ago.
While he has worked on coastal-restoration issues, Jindal has proven to be anything but the sportsmen’s friend he claimed back when he needed the support of the vast numbers of hunters and fishermen.
The resources managed by the LDWF are enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of license-buying outdoorsmen — 700,000 resident anglers and 253,000 hunters in 2011, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service — and generates more than $1.3 billion dollars in expenditures. That’s money that is fed into state coffers, not a cent of which goes to the operations of LDWF.
We who hunt and fish pay for the LDWF each time we purchase licenses. That money is added to other self-generated funding (i.e. mineral royalties from agency-owned land) to support wildlife and fisheries management.
Now, remember Jindal’s promise to find a stable funding mechanism for the LDWF? Apparently, the governor doesn’t. Instead of working to find a secure source of funding for the agency, Jindal has developed an alarming pattern of looking at the LDWF as a piggy bank that can be tapped whenever he sees fit.
Since 2009, Jindal’s administration has reached into the LDWF’s Artificial Reef Fund that is supposed to be dedicated for the creation of fishing habitat and snatched $45 million to help plug budget holes. And he was working hard in mid-May to grab the rest of the fund, leaving not a single penny in the fund to build new reefs.
But it doesn’t stop there: He also has come up with a scheme to steal another $2 million from LDWF’s Conservation Fund, which is constitutionally dedicated to the agency’s operation, by selling land already owned by the state to the agency.
Times are difficult, and Jindal’s job certainly isn’t easy. But it’s during trials that one’s true colors are displayed.
Our governor has been tested and found wanting.