ERSPAMER: A Better Louisiana is on the Horizon…But We Must Act Now

Over the last year, the Pelican Institute has been traveling the state, speaking to individuals and organizations, releasing hundreds of pages of educational materials and countless informative video advertisements emphasizing the importance of making fundamental changes to our state government’s core structures. Now, the moment is upon us to start turning this vision of righting the direction of the state into a reality.

This Saturday’s elections, along with the runoffs occurring on November 16, will result in a huge group of new lawmakers descending on Baton Rouge in 2020. These new leaders will have an important decision to make when they arrive to office next year – 1) uphold the broken status quo that has gotten us ranked among the worst performing economies in the country and has led to more than 28,000 Louisianans leaving the state over the last year alone; or, 2) embrace bold changes to make Louisiana a place where jobs and opportunity will grow and thrive for future generations.

In order to accomplish the latter, we must do a number of things. After all, we have decades of bad policies and big government intrusion to overcome, but that’s not to say it’s insurmountable. For starters, these new lawmakers must develop solutions create a fairer tax system that supports job creation, ensure every child in our state has a school that best fits their needs and put a stop to state sponsored lawsuits against our most important job creators. If these and the other policy reforms from the Pelican Institute’s “A Jobs and Opportunity Agenda” are implemented, we can achieve a future for Louisiana that benefits every hard-working citizen and family in the state.

We cannot afford to delay acting any longer. We’re already missing the boat nationally, as states across the U.S. are experiencing record growth in jobs and opportunity for their citizens. Meanwhile, Louisiana was the only state to actually lose jobs over the last year, and we also suffered one of the worst population losses in the country. It’s time to reverse this trend, and the only way to do it is to upend the entrenched special interests that have been holding the power in Baton Rouge for decades.

Fortunately, there are many Louisianans who realize this and are working tirelessly to achieve the changes we need to make if we want to move the state forward. But, that’s not enough. It is vital that everyone who shares in our vision of jobs and opportunity for Louisiana to do their part and vote this Saturday.

We can compete with our neighbors and position our state to mirror successes achieved in states around the nation, but we must first empower leaders and individuals who will promote the crucial reforms comprising “A Jobs and Opportunity Agenda for Louisiana.” The agenda takes an earnest approach toward solutions that can turn the state around and provides lawmakers with a clear way forward. Many candidates are currently embracing it, with several even adopting much of the agenda into their campaign platforms. It is inspiring to see the debate this election cycle focus around issues that matter the most to our state’s future – taxes, spending, legal reform, Medicaid and many others.

Louisiana is certainly at a crossroads, and we can start the journey down the road to jobs and opportunity on Saturday. There is still much work ahead, but we can make a statement this weekend by demonstrating to our elected leaders that Louisianans statewide are ready and eager to take this new path. And, once these new leaders are elected, we will need to continue to reinforce the overwhelming support for the jobs and opportunity vision. By holding them accountable for their decisions and coming together to tell the status quo it’s no longer welcome, we can demand the change we need to truly move Louisiana forward.

Daniel J. Erspamer is the CEO of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. – New Orleans

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