CABL Report Makes Recommendations for Accelerating Economic Progress
Louisiana Must Play “Catch-up” in Efforts to Attract New Jobs
RELEASED DECEMBER 3, 2001
The Council for A Better Louisiana today released a series of ten recommendations for accelerating economic progress in Louisiana over the next decade. The recommendations identify efforts currently underway on which the state must continue to build, and looks to new areas where Louisiana should focus to attract new jobs.
CABL’s recommendations are part of a new report called “Measuring Our Progress, Louisiana’s Place in the New Economy.” The report compares Louisiana’s economic progress with that of other Southern states over the decade of the 1990s, and examines the reasons some states were more prosperous than Louisiana.
“The bad news is that we spent too much of the ’90s distracted by budget shortfalls, corruption and gambling and failed to keep up with the progress made by other Southern states,” said Barry Erwin, CABL President. “The good news, though, is that we have taken positive steps in several areas which should begin to yield results if we stay the course and continue to build on them.”
CABL used data from the U.S. Census and other sources to analyze the economic growth of Louisiana over the last 10 to 20 years. During that time the South emerged as one of the most dynamic regions in the country, outpacing the nation in the creation of new jobs, experiencing a healthy growth in population and bringing its traditionally high rate of poverty more in line with the rest of the nation.
Unfortunately, the story in Louisiana was considerably different. The state’s job growth during the 1990s was the second lowest in the South, Louisiana was the only Southern state to have more people moving out than moving in, and while our poverty rate declined during the period, we failed to close the gap with the rest of the nation.
According to the CABL report, one of the primary reasons for Louisiana’s inability to keep up with either the nation or the region was its failure to become fully engaged in the “New Economy.” The explosive growth in technology and its applications created huge economic changes, which some states and cities embraced more quickly than others. Generally, those that did embrace the New Economy experienced significant growth over the last decade and greater economic prosperity. To achieve that, New Economy states placed a stronger focus on public education, created an environment that would attract the fast-growing businesses that grew out of the technology revolution, and diversified their economic mix with a more global view.
While Louisiana was slow to move in this direction, the state has begun to put some of the necessary building blocks in place to adapt to the New Economy. They include comprehensive public school reforms, creation of a new system of community and technical colleges, a greater emphasis on workforce development, investment in higher education and progress in developing a digital infrastructure for the state.
But this work is not completed and CABL believes some of the reforms currently in place remain politically vulnerable. With that in mind, CABL offers 10 recommendations which it believes will help accelerate economic progress in Louisiana over the next decade.
CABL’s Top Ten
- Make the full investment in early childhood education for all at-risk students in Louisiana.
- Maintain and sustain the school reforms now in place and fill in the gaps.
- Continue to invest in higher education and demand that it play a greater role in economic development.
- Expand the reach of Louisiana’s new community and technical college system.
- Reform Louisiana’s tax structure.
- International trade and investment must play a bigger part in our future.
- Encourage entrepreneurship, innovation and diversification through research and development.
- Forge strong partnerships between state government and business to market Louisiana.
- Continue to invest seriously and strategically in infrastructure including technology and telecommunications.
- Insist on a state government that is ethical, performance driven and accountable.
These recommendations are explored more fully in the CABL report. The report also includes charts and data that tell Louisiana’s economic story over the last decade, a more detailed look at the elements that make up the New Economy, and a series of more than 30 indicators tracking key quality of life issues.
The report is issued as part of CABL’s People’s Agenda civic engagement project. The People’s Agenda seeks to identify the issues voters believe are most important to Louisiana’s future, and then help make them the focus of public debate. As part of this effort, CABL periodically conducts a statewide survey of voter attitudes on Louisiana politics and government, the results of which are included in the report.