Now that the inauguration is over, elected officials have been sworn in, and the leadership of the state House and Senate has been decided, it’s time for them all to begin what they were elected to do – take the needed steps to move Louisiana forward.
In his inaugural address Governor John Bel Edwards said something which, sadly, we didn’t hear a lot of from candidates during last year’s campaign. “I want to challenge this new legislature and the people of Louisiana to think boldly and to envision a Louisiana with a fully diversified economy, a steady reduction in poverty and an educational system that prepares our people for jobs and careers that will keep them here at home.”
Think boldly, he said, and envision a Louisiana that is better than it is today. Vision. That is something Louisiana sorely needs right now, not just from its leaders, but from all of us. Because if we don’t have a vision for where we want to be – a set of goals and aspirations – it’s pretty obvious that we’ll never get there.
The governor went on to outline a series of priorities, several of which are key. He started with education, especially early education, and we all know that’s probably the most critical element in the future prosperity of our state.
He also mentioned workforce development which is simply an extension of the education discussion. The Board of Regents has established a bold goal of increasing the education attainment rate of our adult citizens with a quality postsecondary credential from 44-percent to 60-percent by 2030. That is something our new legislature, regardless of party, should affirmatively embrace and support.
And the governor highlighted transportation and infrastructure. If any state can stake a claim to being a major transportation hub for commerce, it’s Louisiana. Our roads, waterways, railroads, and pipelines carry goods and natural resources across the country and around the world. Maintaining and improving that infrastructure improves our lives, keeps us safe, and fuels our economy.
So, perhaps it’s no coincidence that all three of those priorities of the governor’s are in the RESET Louisiana agenda developed by CABL, the Public Affairs Research Council, and the Committee of 100 for Economic Development. Why? Because they are so important to our future growth. They’re not the only things that matter, but they are issues we cannot ignore if we are to attain whatever vision we say we have.
A new term is a time for new beginnings. And while it might seem naïve to some, we would ask our newly-elected leaders to buck the trend. Resist the Washington D.C. model of partisan dysfunction and focus on the things like education, transportation, and workforce development that we should all be able to agree on and that can make Louisiana a better place for its people.
Not one candidate running in any race was campaigning for the status quo. That’s because we all know that where we are now isn’t good enough. So perhaps a New Year’s resolution from our leaders might be to accomplish five things over the next term in office that will really move the needle towards the progress we need in our state. Five things.
We know you can’t take the politics out of politics, but we would be willing to bet that if we can move beyond our differences and really try, we can accomplish five things.