It looks like Louisiana won’t drop any more congressional seats this time around on the census. But the way things are going, expect that to change in 2030.
That’s the conclusion you can draw from how reapportionments appear a year out from digestion of census data to be collected Apr. 1. Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia look poised to lose at least one seat in the House of Representatives, while states seeming ready to gain at least one include Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, and Texas.
On a per capita basis, Louisiana has been the biggest loser since 1990. It has shrunk from eight to six seats, although states with much larger populations have lost more seats. And there’s a reason for shrinking populations, a review of fiscal data shows: policies that damage state economies, which consequentially puts state finances under stress, discourage residency compared to states with sounder economic agendas.
Data from two sources bear out this conclusion. The Mercatus Center through 2018 for five years published its “Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition,” which reviewed fiscal data to determine the financial health of each state. For many years and up through 2020, the Tax Foundation has produced its “State Business Tax Climate Index,” which has gauged each state’s friendliness to economic development.
A distinct pattern emerges from a review of this data. Looking at the average ranking of each for winning and losing states, in both instances most of the winning states rank more highly than any of the losing states. For fiscal condition, seat-winning states averaged a rank of 21, while loser states had a mean ranking of 34.4. For business climate, winners had a mean rank of 11.7, while losing states averaged 35.8.
Clearly, states that make wise taxation and spending decisions that serve to stimulate economic development disproportionately attract citizens. Unfortunately, that doesn’t describe Louisiana’s policies, which ranked the state 37th on fiscal health and 41st on business climate.
When Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards assumed office in 2016, Louisiana didn’t rate highly on either measure, ranking 33rd in fiscal health and 37th in business climate. But as during his watch government spending using state dollars increased faster than the rate of inflation and record tax increases ensued, state positions have become worse under him. People voted with their feet and Louisiana lost population during his term, with subtracting out births and deaths showing out-migration closing in on six figures over that span.
It took decades of the tax-and-spend fervor currently advocated by Edwards to put Louisiana in this unenviable spot, and it will take years of opposite policies to reverse this to make the state a place people want to stay in or in which to relocate. With Edwards assured of another four years in office and effectively able to block any potential improvement, that bodes ill for the state to have the time to prevent further erosion.
Its current rankings show Louisiana has much more in common with the states losing representation. Absent some miraculous change of heart on the part of Edwards, the decline he has overseen, along with the willingness of other states to pursue radically different policies, appears to put Louisiana at risk for losing yet another seat in the House of Representatives beginning in 2032.