Rotary Club Meeting – 11-7-23
The Rotary Club met on Tuesday, and our speaker, presented by Rotarian Jimmy LeBlanc, was Dr. Erin Bendily. Dr. Bendily is with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy - a non-profit and non-partisan institute whose purpose is to help the state of Louisiana to thrive and move forward. Louisiana has multiple ports, the Mississippi River, a good cost of living, a beautiful culture, plus so many things that should equate to prosperity. However, poor policy decisions have caused the problems that Louisiana is now facing.
Dr. Bendily addressed some of the areas of concern. The first was revenue. The state budget is $51 billion dollars, which is double what it was 10 years ago. Unfortunately, the population has declined over that same time period, resulting in less revenue, and that is creating an unsustainable situation. So, the question is, are our tax dollars being used well? Louisiana has one of the most complex, convoluted tax systems. It has one of the most unfriendly corporate tax structures. Fixing this is now a necessity. The sales tax system is also one of the most complex in the country, causing businesses to relocate. Tax reform probably won't come up until 2025 because the legislature only takes up this issue every other year. However, work is now being done to work toward correcting this problem.
The next issue was spending. The state continues to spend more without evaluating the expenses. More care needs to be made to look at what is working and what is not, and there needs to be more restraint.
Twenty percent of the population lives in poverty. It is very difficult to access programs for help, and a lot of research has been done to improve this system. Crime is coming down, but it remains too high. Data collection is important to determine what the outcome of programs actually is, and this has become a priority. Right now, the truancy rate is 45% in our school system. Only 33% of our students are proficient at their grade level. It is improving, but there is still more work to be done.
There are many policy items that are being studied – technology, innovation, licensure, etc. Elections have taken place with runoffs coming soon. It is now time to address these concerns. Make sure to push the candidates for Transformational Change for Louisiana. Find out more at ourlouisianacomeback.com.
Other Rotary News:
• Rotary continues to take names for the 10 Christmas baskets.
• The program for November 14th will be presented by Ryan LeDay Williams.