Happy New Year from CABL! It’s 2019 and that means in Louisiana election year is here. The primaries may not be until October, but it’s not too early to begin thinking about what this year’s elections should be about when it comes to the issues that are most important to our state.
During statewide elections a lot of people may be running, but the marquee race, of course, is always the run for governor. In 2018 there was a lot of speculation about who may or may not challenge Gov. John Bel Edwards. That question may not have been fully answered just yet, but we now know how the field is beginning to shape up and who some of the other possible contenders might be.
But while the race for governor always gets the spotlight, one of the things to watch this year will be the races for the Legislature. All 144 seats in the House and Senate are up for grabs and with a full third of the Legislature term-limited that means there will be a lot of new faces and a large class of lawmakers that will have a lot to learn about state issues.
That’s why CABL is looking to partner with other like-minded groups to make this year’s election debate about the issues that are most important to the future of our state. Candidate’s will try to create their own issues. We know that. They will try to distract voter attention with hot-button issues just to grab headlines. That’s part of the formula.
But the truth is, Louisiana has important issues to address. We need to maintain our focus on education and accelerate the things we are doing to raise the education attainment levels of our citizens. We need to address the many challenges we face with roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. We need to look at pension reform and making our fiscal structure more competitive.
Those aren’t particularly sexy issues, but they’re the ones that will have the greatest impact on growing our state and creating the stronger and more diverse economy that we all know we need.
For most of the last ten years, we have been arguing about the budget and implementing budget cuts that have threatened health care and turned our higher education system upside down. To some degree, those debates should be behind us. We finally have some predictability in our revenue picture and it’s time to use that stability to set our priorities and make the investments we have neglected for so long.
Where does Louisiana stand today and where do we want to be? What kind of future do we want for our state? That’s what this election should be about.
In the weeks and months to come, CABL and others will be talking about those things and reaching out to candidates to share information and help inform them about the challenges we need them to address.
It’s easy for elections to devolve into who has the pithiest soundbite. But that’s not what we need. We need candidates to engage with voters about their vision for our state and what they will do to move Louisiana forward. For 2019, that’s what CABL and others will give those running for office the opportunity to do. Let’s hope they take us up on it.