R. Reese Fuller

Gov. Jindal on Katrina and Rita recovery

by R. Reese Fuller

In The Wall Street Journal today, Gov. Bobby Jindal makes his case for why Louisiana's economy is strong, three years after hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit Louisiana. In the guest column "Fiscal Conservatism Helped Louisiana Beat Katrina," Jindal writes that Louisiana's economy has not only defied the predictions of the experts who said the economy would never be the same, but adds, "It's getting better."

Jindal also points to several indicators that the state's economy is strong and growing --like the "the strongest governmental ethics laws in the country," film productions throughout the state, the growing digital media sector, and "becoming a national leader in the coming global nuclear-energy resurgence." When it comes to educational reforms, he writes: "For the first time in our history, Louisiana has become a hotbed for education innovation."

In an ABC News report yesterday, however, the governor's assessment wasn't so cheery. He told Bob Woodruff that recovery from the hurricanes has been too slow.
"I think the challenge that has gotten people so frustrated is they hear of all these great things, they hear of the federal government saying we've approved over $100 billion," Jindal said, "but they're saying, 'When are we gonna see it on our block? When will we see that police station, that fire station, that school? When will we see it in our bank accounts?'"

But there has been some progress, Jindal continued, thanks to the billions of dollars spent on levee reconstruction.

"And the reason I start there is because people have to be safe before they'll come back," he said.

Despite all the money that has poured into the state for rebuilding the levees and protecting the city from future hurricanes, Jindal said it is just a drop in the bucket considering the city is only prepared for a Category 3 storm.

"We still don't see a commitment to Category 5 protection -- truly comprehensive hurricane and flood protection," he said. "The second thing that's missing from this is a deep commitment not only to flood and hurricane protection but coastal restoration. Building levees alone is like building a great wall to stop the ocean. It doesn't work."