After a bruising and often controversial legislative session, you’d think that politically, at least, things would begin to quiet down. Actually, they’re about to heat back up. Due largely to the state’s monumental budget woes this year, the race for governor has pretty much been on the backburner. Yes, the candidates pop up from time to time at various forums and you do see the occasional television commercial, but overall, it’s been pretty low key.
But now that the session is over and the focus is no longer on taxes and cuts to higher education, attention will surely shift to the fall elections. And that’s good, because it should.
Every major statewide election is important, but it’s hard to overstate the importance of this year’s election for governor. After years of consecutive budget cuts, our state needs to reposition itself and begin to move in a direction with a clearer eye on the future.
Despite volatile oil prices, we are still seeing huge investments in our state that will give us a solid economic boost. We have opportunities to build our technology sector that would have seemed unheard of just a few years ago and all of our many natural resources continue to make Louisiana an attractive location for many industries.
But we need to do some repair work to our state, both literally and figuratively, and it starts with the 2015 elections.
For our part, CABL hopes to contribute to that dialogue in a variety of ways:
This year we will continue our longstanding partnership with Louisiana Public Broadcasting to bring voters thoughtful, issues-oriented statewide televised debates in the governor’s race.
We are developing an election agenda which we hope will serve as a framework for candidates in adopting their platforms for where they plan to lead our state.
We’ll be surveying candidates for governor with straightforward questionnaires focused on helping voters understand where they stand on key issues.
We intend to raise awareness around critical issues in this year’s hotly-contested BESE races and survey those candidates, as well, so their positions on various matters are clearly on the record.
And we will be unveiling a new website with new features and resources designed to help serve citizens with information they need to make informed civic decisions.
The recent legislative session made it clear that Louisiana has some tough decisions ahead if we are to put ourselves in the financial posture we need to truly prosper as a state. There’s no way we can get there by slashing higher education, ignoring our roads or cutting health care services. Instead we need to establish some clear priorities for our state, fund them and let the chips fall where they may with items that are deemed less important. That’s what people do in their lives. The state ought to be able to do that, too.
But that requires leadership, and in the case of the issues facing Louisiana, an extra dose of courage. And it all starts with this fall’s elections. It’s up to all of us to engage the candidates on important matters, understand what their goals for the state are, and hopefully elect a leader who can get the job done. At this juncture in particular, Louisiana deserves nothing less.