Should members of the LSU Board of Supervisors disclose who receives their scholarships?|
|Don't hold your breath|
You know the dog days of summer have arrived when the only exciting news in the news is some silly tax rebate flap and disgruntled teachers dreaming the impossible dream of recalling the governor.
Yet, that's what we've been subjected to of late in light of the revelation that state Department of Revenue Secretary Cynthia Bridges – make that former secretary – took it upon herself to declare a tax rebate of up to $3,000 for state income tax filers who bought a new flex fuel automobile beginning in 2009. To be clear, those flex fuel automobiles are nothing more than cars and trucks that can operate on ethanol, which, if you haven't noticed lately, isn't available at too many gas stations throughout Louisiana.
Bridges came to her conclusion in late April after reviewing a statue the Legislature approved some three years ago. That statute paved the way for the state to award rebates for any tax filer who could be described as environmentally friendly. Not necessarily tree huggers but individuals who desire to operate a car or truck that supposedly doesn't do as much damage to the ozone layer as your traditional gas-guzzler. After all, "going green" is the "in" thing to do these days.
Bridges' declaration was problematic on two fronts. No. 1, she apparently failed to inform Gov. Bobby Jindal of her decision, and No. 2, she obviously didn't bother to consult with the folks who mind the state's checkbook. If she had, she would have learned that her decision to play Santa Claus could punch a hole in the state budget the size of Texas. Not exactly good news since Louisiana is broke.
Bridges' failure to think beyond her nose led to her dismissal. Oh, she officially resigned her post, but make no mistake. She was fired. Deservedly so, too.
Hoping to restore some sense of order at Revenue, Jindal issued an order to put the brakes on the declaration that cost Bridges her job. He also turned to former Rep. Jane Smith to replace Bridges. A former school superintendent, Smith joined the Department of Revenue earlier this year as a deputy secretary. It was a consolation prize following her defeat at the polls last fall in her bid for a state Senate seat.
Rest assured, you most likely won't be reading about Smith acting in a manner that could embarrass the administration. Bluntly put, Smith won't sharpen a pencil unless she gets the green light from the Fourth Floor to do it.
Tax filers who knew about Bridges' declaration and had enough sense to file for rebates early on can expect to get a check from the state for each new flex fuel automobile they purchased in 2009, 2010, 2011 and this year. Tax filers who didn't act on the giveaway on or before June 14 – when Jindal's order dropped – must wait for the Department of Revenue to craft some rules that supposedly will clarify who and what qualify for rebates from the state under the statute that Bridges based her decision. And you're more than welcome to file for the rebate until some clarification from the state surfaces.
Don't hold your breath waiting for a check.
In the meantime, we're left to wonder how much progress could be made in public education if the teachers, who are mesmerized with recalling Jindal, would set aside their infatuation with thwarting his education reform measures and instead, focus on the task they were hired to perform. Namely, educating their students.
Just a thought.