New Report Lays Out How Louisiana Can Become Economic Powerhouse

Louisiana’s neighbors in Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and North Carolina prosper while Louisiana, despite its valuable resources, suffers.

How does Louisiana transform its economy into something better? A new report from the New Orleans-based Pelican Institute for Public Policy offers answers. Pelican Institute staff published the report, titled Louisiana’s Comeback Agenda, earlier this month.

“Our kids, grandkids, friends, and family members – are leaving to find work and opportunity in other states. It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, it shouldn’t,” the report said.

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“Look at our state’s assets: five of the top fifteen ports in the country, the most active natural gas sector, among the most oil refineries, affordable land, unparalleled food and culture, and not to mention the mouth of the mighty Mississippi River. That’s enough to position any place to be an economic powerhouse. And yet, we sit at the bottom of nearly every good list… and the top of the bad ones.”

Among only a few of the things that Louisiana’s Comeback Agenda advises state lawmakers to do:

• Flatten personal income taxes, with the goal of eventual elimination.

• Streamline corporate taxes.

• Lower and flatten corporate income tax rates.

• Eliminate the franchise tax.

• Phase out the inventory tax.

• Ease sales tax administrative burdens and broaden the base.

• Adequately fund and support law enforcement, and that includes concentrating resources on high-crime neighborhoods while shifting the burden of welfare checks and mental health to other organizations.


Louisiana uses incremental budgeting, which Pelican staff members said modifies the current state budget to determine the next one.

“Over the last decade, no program has been eliminated due to a lack of efficacy or efficiency, since the process doesn’t consider those factors,” according to the report.


“This approach drives up spending without considering outcomes.”

The report recommends that state leaders shift away from incremental budgeting and “identify true spending priorities.”

“To improve budgeting efficacy and efficiency, lawmakers should institute regular performance audits – which help determine which programs are effective and which are not – to provide objective outcomes-based measures related to agencies’ missions,” Pelican staff wrote.

“This will allow for routine checks of efficiency and efficacy. The executive branch should build a zero-based budget from scratch each year to ensure it meets the true priorities and fulfills legal funding requirements.”

Louisiana’s lawmakers must also allocate scarce taxpayer dollars to meet the state’s biggest needs. To do that, they must make all dollars accessible and reduce the number of dedicated funds and constitutionally dedicated programs.

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Louisiana’s Comeback Agenda also offers policy solutions to reform the state’s K-12 education programs and recommends ways to wean low-income residents off government dependency.



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