LETTER: Create the state we deserve

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Last year was a year of much progress by our governor and Legislature to improve the perception of Louisiana.

Genuine progress was made in ethics reform, workforce development, funding for transportation infrastructure and coastal restoration, and tax relief for individuals and businesses.

As is true for the entire nation, Louisiana faces significant state budget concerns in the coming year. Despite these challenges, Blueprint Louisiana's basic belief remains the same – it’s time to create the state we deserve.

Louisiana's difficult budget outlook means we must do more with less, just like many households do every day. For state government, it suggests an ordering of priorities, a search for programs with maximum impact. 

The mid-year budget cuts recently announced by Governor Jindal hinted at some prioritization within state programs. The Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) was spared from cuts for the time being.  It is a realization by our leaders that we must not halt progress in this key area of education and workforce development at a time when LCTCS has seen a significant enrollment increase. Blueprint Louisiana applauds this decision by the administration and legislative leadership to apply budget cuts strategically within a framework limited by the State Constitution.

We look forward to a spirited debate and promising developments in health care reform in 2009.

Governor Jindal proposes a “Louisiana Health First” reform package that addresses key components of  Blueprint's recommendations, including regional redesigns of our safety net provider system and coverage expansions for Louisiana's uninsured.

We also applaud Our Lady of Lake Regional Medical Center and LSU for their proposed partnership for physician training and patient care in Baton Rouge. This innovative and efficient new model strengthens the state's commitment to medical education and health care delivery. Another move in the right direction.

Blueprint Louisiana is committed to its remaining agenda items of health care reform; investment in Pre-K education, transportation and coastal restoration/hurricane protection; and centers of excellence in the LCTCS system. We are also examining a couple of new ideas that fit our original mission and focus on positive change in higher education, despite looming cuts to these institutions.  

In so doing, we commit anew to citizens to continue the work of creating a Louisiana that is a better place to live and work.

Robert L. Burgess

Blueprint Louisiana Board of Trustee and President & CEO, EATEL