A four quarter fix

You don’t put on a tuxedo to go to McDonalds and you don’t get on an airplane to visit your neighbor across the street. It would be silly to take such grand steps to accomplish something quite simple.

After a historic election cycle, it would be just as silly for this new, fully independent, reform-minded Legislature to play it safe this session – just like lawmakers have always done at the State Capitol.

For the first time in a very long time, there is a chance for true change in how lawmakers at the State Capitol do their business. It will be fascinating to see how it all plays out.

The Legislature is full of newly-elected members who are not beholden to the old way of doing things. Out of 39 state senators, 18 are new members. The House of Representatives has 46 new fresh faces out of 105. Both chambers aim to be a more conservative body than any other in Louisiana’s history, and for the first time ever, both chambers independently elected their leadership.

I think this Legislature will be bold, courageous and inspirational. I think they will try their best to live up to the historic nature by which they arrived in Baton Rouge and I am hopeful the people of this state will benefit from their service unlike any other time in our history. But for that to happen, what must occur?

Well, I would recommend this new legislature channel their inner Coach O and view this term like a four-quarter game. Each quarter, or year in this instance, must have a specific game plan and be executed to perfection.

First quarter: Show the people of this state they can walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to changing the way Louisiana’s state government has operated. Pass historic legal reform that will prioritize people first, shed our “jackpot justice” system and rebuild our insurance markets, reacquire our lost energy jobs and rebalance our court systems to be more representative to the needs of real people across our state.

Second quarter: Fix our broken tax code and replace it with one that is simple, flat, fair and competitive with all other southern states. Establish a plan of prioritization and appropriate funding for solutions to a broken, run down infrastructure system that simply cannot be ignored anymore. This means new bridges (urban and rural), port projects, capacity enhancements and maintenance upgrades of existing roads.

Third quarter: Accept no excuses for solving our workforce needs to ensure that every person who wants a job can find a good job here in Louisiana. This means making our elementary schools the most innovative and competitive in the nation. This means partnering with our universities, colleges and independent training services to ensure they are focused on the skills and training our employers and employees both need. This means taking the next step to ensure training being delivered to our incarcerated citizens is robust and innovative enough to ensure we slow down the cycle of incarceration of our returning citizens.

Fourth quarter: Reshape how we budget, tax, fund and support all that we do to a model that is capable of delivering high quality services in a way that is highly transparent and accountable to the taxpayer. That means taking the next few years to prepare to adopt competitive technology to replace outdated approaches, driving accountability and responsibility down to the local level where feasible and moving away from the chicken in every pot approach that probably worked well in the 1930’s but shows little promise of success in the 2030’s.

This new legislature has enormous potential to do enormous things. This possibility is something Huey’s beautiful building has never quite seen before. To reach this potential, the people of this state need to step up, demand change and support a newly elected Legislature hungry to do big things.

Let’s work together to capitalize on their hunger. They are all dressed up and ready to go. Let’s make sure this meal is a delicious and satisfying one we all will never forget.


About Stephen Waguespack 26 Articles
Stephen Waguespack is the President and CEO of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI). As the state’s chamber of commerce and manufacturer’s association, LABI is the largest business advocacy group, representing more than 2,200 business members and 324,000 employees.

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