From an op-ed Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal which appeared in the Monroe News-Star today…
The New Year is upon us, and folks everywhere are setting out to make their resolutions — commitments we make to improve the year ahead of us. This year, our top resolution for the state is we continue to foster an economic environment that keeps businesses growing and creating jobs and opportunity for our people right here at home.
So far, over the past three years, through ethics reforms, work force development system reforms, cutting government spending and cutting taxes on our people and businesses, we have taken Louisiana from the bottom to the top of many national “good” lists across the country. But, even though we continue to outperform the nation and produce many jobs wins in the still-sluggish national economy, it will be even more important for us to keep our economy growing in 2011 and the years ahead.
Part of that mission this year means we must tackle our budget challenges head on. We will balance the state’s budget through a combination of spending cuts and the use of available funding to support the critical areas of higher education and health care, especially, as they work to transition into more sustainable systems less reliant on state funding. We continue to meet with health care, higher education and pre-K-12 education stakeholders as part of the budget development process, working together to identify reforms and ways to protect critical services for our people.
One thing we absolutely will not do to balance the budget in 2011 is raise taxes on our people. We know many families are hurting and struggling through tough economic times. Adding to their financial burdens would be one of the worst things we could do.
Just recently, an employment survey conducted by Manpower Inc. found Louisiana employers expect to hire at an “active pace” and the state’s employment outlook is the best in the nation for the first quarter of 2011. Manpower Inc. indicated around 21 percent of employers in Louisiana expect to hire more employees than the U.S. average of 14 percent. Most importantly, Louisiana’s Net Employment Outlook, estimated by the Manpower survey, was assessed at “plus 14 percent,” which is better than the national outlook of “plus 4 percent.”
Louisiana also was just named the 2010 “State of the Year” by Business Facilities magazine. The magazine noted Louisiana won because of our “diversity and growth” in high-tech and traditional manufacturing as well as our overall job creation.
Just a few weeks ago, we announced two companies and one nonprofit that are bringing new jobs and new opportunities to Louisiana. In northeast Louisiana, we announced the construction of a new 392,000-square-foot plant, which eventually will become the world’s largest bio-based succinic acid plant. From the construction alone, the project will require at least 250 construction workers. Once finished, the plant will generate 176 new direct and indirect jobs in the area and will generate $80 million in capital investment.
We also recently announced Affiliated Mortgage Company of Monroe will retain and expand its operations in Louisiana. This is great news because there was a good chance our state was going to lose the company to Dallas, but by working together, we came up with solutions to not only keep them in Monroe, but help them expand. That means instead of losing 40 jobs, Affiliated Mortgage will add a total of 217 direct and indirect jobs here, along with a $2 million capital investment.
Over the past three years, we’ve announced economic wins creating more than 38,000 direct and indirect jobs total, and investing more than $7 billion in capital in Louisiana.
We resolve 2011 and the years ahead will bring even greater economic growth and opportunity to our state and that Louisiana continues to earn the honors of being called: “State of the Year” and “No. 1 in the Country.”