The national news is inundated with stories on how the U.S. economy, population, and employment are booming. Unfortunately, Louisiana continues to make economic news for all the wrong reasons. In December the U.S. Census Bureau reported Louisiana is one of only 8 states in the country to lose population from 2017 to 2018.
In January, Site Selection magazine ranked Louisiana as 44th in the country in its business tax climate rankings. Gov. John Bel Edwards’ policies are having a negative impact on our ability to compete and to attract quality jobs and a talented workforce.
Georgia Pacific just announced a layoff of nearly 700 high-paying jobs. BASF followed suit by laying off 50 more. From Monroe to Metairie, Lake Providence to Lafayette, strategic job growth is slowing or stalled. Every time a company employing our best and brightest closes, we increase the Texas workforce and economy. While our state is full of wonderful, talented people, and natural resources, a lack of vision, leadership, and good policy from the Governor’s office is holding us back.
In just a few short years, Governor Edwards has reversed the pro-business momentum our state was experiencing over the last decade, instead choosing to vilify and create barriers to economic growth. Since taking office, Edwards has raised utility taxes on businesses, created new taxes on manufacturing equipment, and made changes to the industrial tax exemption program that have made the benefits of doing business in Louisiana more uncertain for businesses and essentially increasing the property taxes of expanding companies.
These actions, along with Edwards’ decision to hire some of his largest donors to help local governments sue oil companies who provide good, high-paying jobs to Louisiana workers, demonstrate an administration out of touch with the petrochemical and oil and gas industries, the lifeblood of our state’s economy.
John Bel Edwards is committed to trying to cure society’s ills through higher taxes, increasing dependency on state government, and destroying industries at the very backbone of the Louisiana economy. His policies have created uncertainty and instability, and we are watching the repercussions in real time.
The Louisiana that I know gets things done by overcoming adversity. We don’t wait on the government to save us; we go and get the job done. Ask the Cajun Navy if waiting for the government to save people is efficient. Ask the oil field workers who for decades have developed innovative ways to transform their industry if they are in a better place.
We don’t wait for the government to save us when times are tough. Our people don’t need handouts, they need opportunities. Louisiana must create its own bright economic future, and it will be one of my top priorities. Together we will accomplish this by delivering the following to any company looking to grow in our state: certainty and stability in Louisiana’s business-friendly policies, the elimination of red tape and government barriers to growth, and a trained workforce.
It’s time to stop disparaging industry in Louisiana, stop creating barriers to growth, and most importantly, it’s time to get government out of the way.
This column originally appeared at The Lafayette Advertiser.