Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has been on the road for months, giving speeches and visiting early states, but unlike Sen. Ted Cruz, he won’t be jumping into the GOP presidential contest anytime soon.
Top advisor Timmy Teepell said Jindal wants to wait until the state legislative session ends on June 11th before announcing his plans, local news outlets reported Monday afternoon.
The Louisiana legislature is currently combating a huge, $1.6 billion budget deficit – a crisis Jindal needs to solve before he joins the presidential fray.
"He's been running for a year or two," Baton Rouge political consultant Michael Beychok told msnbc, adding that after the budget fight Jindal will “proclaim victory and then say now I’m going to run for president."
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Louisiana State University Political Science Professor Robert Hogan told msnbc the credibility of a Jindal candidacy rests on how he resolves the state's budget crisis.
“If he can solve this budget issue in a way that’s acceptable here, he’s going to be in a lot better case to make a case for the fiscal policies [with] evidence supporting that the fiscal policies he’s trumpeted here are actually working,” Hogan said.
Right now, however, “the situation looks dire,” Hogan said.
Economists and many critics are blaming Jindal and state Republicans’ fiscal policies for massive shortfall the state is facing. The governor has ruled out raising taxes and has already made deep cuts to education and healthcare. He's also proposed eliminating $526 million in inventory tax rebates, much to the protest of local businesses and local conservatives.
"If he can portray himself as he has done very successfully as someone who is a budget slasher, a public jobs cutter, that’s something that’s music to the ears of the sort of Republicans he’s trying to attract," Hogan said. "I can easily see in mid-June the budget being balanced and all the bad horrible things that people said were going to happen, he’s going to be able to say, look, I stood true to my principles."
Sources say Jindal is working to assert his fiscal conservatism and refusal to hike taxes. He wants to be able to say he “saved higher education, saved healthcare, all without raising taxes,” Beychock said.
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Jindal's approach to his state's fiscal woes has even drawn criticism from other Republicans. Louisiana GOP State Rep. Jay Morris called the governor’s plan “insane,” noting officials in his administration have said Jindal would veto anything not approved by the Americans for Tax Reform, the Washington group headed by anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist that resists any hike in taxes.
Jindal's decision to delay a 2016 announcement may also quell critics who say he's been an absentee governor who's spent considerable time out of state working to raise his national profile with trips to D.C., abroad, and early voting states.
Jindal spent 165 days -- nearly half of 2014 -- outside Louisiana and only one of the trips was official business, according to The Advocate. But his efforts to gin up support for a presidential bid have come up short so far: Just 1% of Republicans said they’d support the Republican for president in a CNN/ORC poll last week.
Hogan said that a potential budget deal could give Jindal the boost he needs.
“He’s someone who has all the characteristics [the GOP wants in a presidential candidate] and if he just passes his last test of balancing this budget, there are a lot of people who are going to be giving him a second look,” Hogan said.