From the Publisher: January 2016
Will A New Broom Sweep Clean?
By Art Suberbielle
Although only a minority of the state’s registered voters turned out in this fall’s elections, Louisiana has elected a new governor who just happens to be a Democrat. John Bel Edwards will assume the daunting task of working with a legislature that is composed of a majority of Republicans. Can the two parties actually work together for the common good?
Many of us are breathing a sigh of relief that Bobby Jindal is finally out of the governor’s mansion. Actually, Jindal was so preoccupied with his quest for a presidential bid that he was less than effective during most of his second term. In his 2007 campaign for governor, Jindal promised voters to operate in complete transparency. However, after being elected, he quickly abandoned that key promise and much of his doings were behind closed doors and cloaked in secrecy.
During the run-off, John promised to work with the Republicans for a better Louisiana. We are about to see if he follows through on that promise. Goodness knows, there is a tremendous amount of work to be done. First and foremost is the huge budget deficit facing the state. During the last few years, Governor Jindal has consistently drained the “rainy day” fund to balance the budget. State Treasurer John Kennedy has often said that Louisiana doesn’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.
With the oil and gas industry in a downturn, we now have both a revenue problem and a spending problem. To arrive at any reasonable solution, it will require the utmost cooperation between the governor and the legislature. Many of the so-called “non-negotiable items” will need to be adjusted. One of the top priorities is to find a permanent solution for funding education and health care. We must also find a way to fund improvements to the state’s deplorable highways and bridges.
For too long Louisiana has put off the inevitable. Now is the time to face-up to our problems and address them. Will a new broom (a.k.a John Bel Edwards) sweep clean and do what is best for the state? We all will be watching closely.