St. Charles Herald-Guide

What is the plan for Louisiana?

By C.B. Forgotston - August 10, 2009

In his column, Associated Press business writer, Alan Sayre, provides us with a very interesting analysis of the state’s economy.

Some things that jumped right off the page of the column were these comments:

– Since June 2008, the state has lost 14,800 jobs, mostly because of steep declines in manufacturing.

– At the University of New Orleans, economists say the metro area gained 1,100 jobs in the year ending March 31 because of a 3,900-job increase in state and local government employment in the health care and education sectors. (Emphasis mine.)

Government not sharing the pain
Based on my own research, despite multiple “hiring freezes”, “budget cuts” and much weeping and wailing by state agencies, LA state government is doing quite well compared to the private sector.

In the period from January 31, 2008 (two weeks after Bobby Jindal took over as our governor) to July 24, 2009, there was a net increase of over 400 state employees.

The future
Predictions of the future for the private sector in LA despite Jindal’s and our ethically-challenged head of economic development, Stephen Moret, rhetoric to the contrary don’t look good.  Here’s some more excepts from Sayre’s analysis:

– Yet to come is the promised closure of the General Motors Corp. plant in Shreveport by 2012.

– A [Louisiana Chemical Association] survey of its member companies indicates the industry stands to lose 700 to 1,200 jobs by the end of 2010, continuing a 10-year trend of reduced employment.

In fairness, Sayre does talk about the chicken plan and the yet-to-materialize mystery auto plant as potential sources of jobs.  In both cases these jobs may materialize only because the state bribed the companies to operate in Louisiana.

However, jobs are not being created at a rate necessary to offset the losses much less to keep up with those newly entering the workforce each year just from our high schools much less the new “career option” diploma holders.

When the other states began their recovery, I predict another large out-migration of our “best and brightest.”

By comparison
Finally, Sayre sums up our economy in comparison to the other states by noting that Louisiana is only doing well because (my words) falling off the bottom rung of the ladder doesn’t hurt as much as does falling from a higher rung.

What Sayre doesn’t say is that when the worldwide recession/depression is over, Louisiana will still be at the bottom.

Plans?
I have a plan — cut business taxes, fees and red tape.  Yes, there will be some sacrifice by reducing the size of government, but it’s not a “chicken or egg” situation.   Every job created by making it easier to do business in our state reduces the need for government services.

Other than some new ethics laws, bribing businesses, some nibbling around the edges of taxation (mostly by not increasing them) and a promise to streamline government, where is the state’s  plan (not rhetoric) for Louisiana’s economic future?

Kudos to Alan for this analysis.   It should be a wake up call.