Moving into 2015 marks not only the start of a new year, but the beginning of a new opportunity to determine the next chapter in the future of Louisiana. It’s a critically important year because of state elections. A year when we absolutely must focus on the direction we want our state to go and pressure those who aspire to be our leaders to lay out their vision for where they want to take us.
In the current political environment, that’s a hard thing to do. Unfortunately, the preferred way to get elected seems to be to find some hot-button issue, manufacture it into something even bigger than it is, use it as a distraction to take voters’ eyes off the real prize, and ride it to victory.
If all the aspiring leader wants to do is win, that has proven to be a pretty good prescription for success. But that’s not good enough for our state or our children and we as citizens need to be smart enough to know there’s really much more at stake.
Oil prices notwithstanding, our state budget has been in shambles in recent years. Politicians can say what they want, but we’ve been spending more than we’ve been reliably taking in and we’ve reached a point that is truly unsustainable unless revenue collections increase. Low oil prices have exacerbated the problem, but they didn’t cause the problem.
We have assets, both natural and those we have built, that would be the envy of most any state in the nation, yet we struggle to make ends meet. We have economic development opportunities that boggle the mind, but we don’t have the infrastructure to support them.
We have some of the lowest education attainment rates in the country, yet we cut our colleges and continue to play political games with the academic standards for teaching our children.
These are among the issues we need to be talking about in 2015, and these are the things we need our candidates to address. For our part, CABL will work, as other groups will too, to lay out an agenda for progress that we hope will help position Louisiana in a place where it rightfully belongs.
At this point we don’t need candidates that say they have all the answers, but we do need people who will share with citizens their real ideas for moving Louisiana forward and listen to the ideas of others. People who will demonstrate they have the courage to do difficult things for the greater good of our state.
Sure there are some rather simplistic formulas out there for winning elections. Even the most unlikely candidate can often do that. But positioning the state for the better future it deserves is a much greater challenge. Let’s hope that 2015 brings with it aspiring leaders who are up to it.