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LSU student body president takes Gov. Jindal to task for travels

By Vivian Kuo, CNN
  • A university student leader thinks Gov. Bobby Jindal should spend more time at home
  • The student wrote a letter published in a New Hamshire newspaper
  • The letter says Jindal "is spending more time in your state" than his home state
  • A spokesman for the governor says he's spent 90 percent of his time in Louisiana

(CNN) -- A letter written by a Louisiana State University student leader and published Monday in a New Hampshire newspaper is taking Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to task for his out-of-state travels.

The letter in New Hampshire's Keene Sentinel tells readers: "Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is spending more time in your state than the one he was elected to represent. I read almost daily about his trips to other states, which makes me believe that he is more interested in running for president than running the state of Louisiana."

J Hudson, the letter's author, is a 21-year-old political science and communications major as well as LSU's student body president. The reason he wrote the letter, he said, is because he tried through traditional means of arranging a meeting to discuss education cuts with Jindal -- but to no avail.

"We tried to set up meetings with Governor Jindal. We got an e-mail sent back to us from his executive assistant, telling us that his schedule was very tight," Hudson said. "But a few days after that, I started reading he was in Florida, New Hampshire, New York, Wisconsin. No wonder he has no time, he's all over the United States and not in Louisiana."

Jindal was in New Hampshire on October 14 and in several other states recently to attend political fundraising events.

Kyle Plotkin, Jindal's press secretary said in a statement Monday: "The Governor has spent over 90 percent of the days since taking office in Louisiana, traveling to every parish multiple times. It's good for Louisiana for the Governor to share with business and other leaders across the country our success in outperforming the national economy."

In the letter, Hudson said he wanted to ask the governor "why he's imposing devastating budget cuts that will result in the firing of one-third of the university's faculty and reduce enrollment by 8,000."

LSU, the victim of numerous budget cuts in recent years, is bracing for as much as a $62 million reduction in the future due to the state's financial crisis.

Hudson said it's that crisis facing his school that has him trying to track down the governor.

"Governor Jindal, Louisiana higher education is about to be devastated. It will take a generation for our universities to recover. On behalf of the students whose hopes for a brighter future will soon be crushed, I beg you to return to Louisiana and fix your state's serious problems. You've neglected your constituents long enough," Hudson said in the letter.

Plotkin said the governor's chief of staff and policy director have already met with Hudson to discuss education funding.

"It's great he and other students are getting involved in the political process and we hope they continue to be part of the conversation. We have an open dialogue with the higher education community about the state's budget challenges and we're working to mitigate reductions to classrooms," Plotkin said.

"The reality though is that higher education officials are not delivering the value our students deserve. That's why we've encouraged higher education administrative officials to prioritize reductions so that they come mainly from administrative overhead, not teaching and research."

Hudson said he believed legislators should change state policy to better protect higher education and perhaps find other areas to make budget cuts in.

Despite taking the meeting request to the public stage, Hudson said the governor's been doing a good job and he bears no ill will towards him.

"I'm very satisfied with his role. He can really speak for the people and protect the interests of the citizens of our state, with our natural disasters and the Gulf oil spill," he said. "All I'm asking is just for a meeting, a 30-minute meeting on how to protect the flagship institution of our state."

Hudson said he would consider voting for Jindal if he should run for president, if he spends more time at home. "We need him in this state. Look, I'm not saying he wouldn't be a great presidential candidate if he ever went into something like that, but take care of your home first, and then you can move on to whatever presidential aspirations you have."