January 21, 2013
Throughout his years in public office, Gov. Bobby Jindal has consistently touted himself as a leader who is pro-family. We have a hard time squaring that rhetoric with recent budget cuts that promise more misery for families already struggling with dire circumstances.
Because of the budget cuts, battered women’s shelters across the state will probably have to turn away more women who desperately need a haven from abusive spouses or partners.
In the most-recent round of cuts to the state budget, funding for family violence prevention and intervention was cut by nearly $1 million, a 16 percent reduction in total dollars through the contracts the state holds with shelters and other domestic violence prevention providers. Those reductions jeopardize the health and safety of family members touched by domestic violence, including children.
Other reductions in the state budget affect hospice services, health-care providers, dental benefits for pregnant women and contract services for the poor, the mentally ill and the drug-addicted. That’s no way to advance the cause of strong, healthy families in Louisiana.
Especially troubling in the latest round of budget cuts is the elimination of a state program that helps children with behavioral health problems.
The elimination of the Early Childhood Supports and Services program seems especially unwise at a time when recent episodes of campus violence have underscored the need for aggressive help for troubled individuals. Jindal administration officials have suggested that better, more-efficient methods can be found to help children assisted by the eliminated program. But as the basic infrastructure of state social services continues to be assaulted by yearly budget cuts, we are skeptical of claims that the needs of Louisiana’s most vulnerable citizens can be met.
Society is often judged by how well it treats those who need help the most. By that standard, Louisiana has much work to do. The state consistently places at or near the bottom in national rankings of key public health indicators. The latest round of state budget cuts won’t help improve those rankings, which diminish the quality of life for all citizens — and directly impact this state’s ability to attract outside investment and new business.
Being pro-family requires more than speech-making. A true commitment to strengthening Louisiana families obligates the governor to protect families at their greatest point of need.
By that standard, Jindal’s fiscal policies have failed.