Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
The state of Louisiana is blessed with an abundance of natural resources and attractions. The state’s largest city, New Orleans, is the birthplace of Jazz, a 305-year-old gem with a rich history. It is the home of the French Quarter, Mardi Gras, countless festivals, beautiful architecture, and many of the best restaurants in the world.
Louisiana is a state known as a sportsman paradise with outstanding hunting and fishing. We have tremendous supplies of oil and gas, the mighty Mississippi River, beautiful bayous, gorgeous plantations, the unique Cajun culture, and a warm climate that should lure many retirees to the state.
With so many attractions, Louisiana should be a state that experiences incredible growth and prosperity. Instead, it has been mired in poverty and has suffered from a stagnant population and business losses for decades.
According to the 2020 census, 4.6 million people live in Louisiana. This showed an anemic population growth rate of only 2.7%, compared to the Southern average of 10.2% and the national average of 7.4%.
While our Southern neighbors have been booming, Louisiana has been languishing. The ghost of Huey Long has been haunting the state ever since the 1930’s.
His philosophy of “Every Man a King,” and a “Chicken in Every Pot,” has led to a belief in a large state government, high taxes on businesses and social services for the poor, such as the Charity Hospital system.
This socialist mentality has been hard to dislodge in Louisiana. The current Governor, Democrat John Bel Edwards, campaigned as a pro-life conservative, who supported the 2nd Amendment. Sadly, Louisiana voters were sold a “bill of goods” as Edwards was revealed to be a typical liberal Democrat who believed in big government and draconian COVID mandates.
In his eight years as Governor, Louisiana made no strides in fiscal or tax reform. We continue to have a franchise tax, high sales taxes, an income tax and a state budget that ballooned to $47 billion in the last fiscal year.
While the state’s population has been stagnant for the last twenty years, the budget has almost tripled in that period. Thus, the answer to the state’s myriad of problems is not more government spending.
Fortunately, there is good news for the long-suffering people of Louisiana. Yesterday, Louisiana voters finally elected a real conservative as Governor, Attorney General Jeff Landry. He won a massive victory, garnering 52% of the vote against 14 opponents, including several who were well funded.
He is a former policeman and U.S. Congressman, with a strong conservative voting record. As Attorney General, he regularly battled the Biden administration on a variety of critical issues, including their overreaching COVID regulations and mandates.
Landry benefitted from the endorsement of President Donald Trump and the Louisiana Republican Party. He was well known to voters for his career as a conservative champion. Also, he ran a very smart campaign focusing on principal issues such as improving public safety.
Louisiana suffers from an extremely high incidence of violent crime. New Orleans has the eighth highest murder rate in the world, with a homicide rate of 71 per 100,000 residents. Once again, New Orleans was ranked as the “Murder Capital” of the nation with 266 homicides in 2022.
Overall, Louisiana has the third highest violent crime rate in the nation with 661 violent crimes per 100,000 people. Thus, in Louisiana, violent crime is a problem across the state, not just in New Orleans. Other larger cities, such as Shreveport and Baton Rouge, and smaller cities, such as Monroe and Alexandria, have serious crime problems as well.
In battling crime and the other problems in Louisiana, Landry will be joined by a legislature that will have a two-thirds Republican majority in both the House and Senate. After a runoff in November, it is likely that all the statewide elected officials will also be Republicans.
For Landry and the other Republican elected officials, it will be time for immediate action. Louisiana cannot wait any longer or the state will suffer the loss of more congressional seats, more businesses, and more population.
While public safety must be restored, public confidence in our elected officials must be restored as well. It has been many years since Louisiana voters were well served by a Governor who delivered on campaign promises.
Expectations are high for Landry as his track record as an achiever is promising. Luckily, the answers are found in Texas, Florida, and other Southern states.
Louisiana just needs to follow their successful examples. Providing public safety, maintaining low taxes on citizens, and creating an inviting climate for businesses will solve many of the state’s problems. It will increase revenue for improvements in infrastructure, public education, and coastal restoration.
This election provides a tremendous opportunity for the State of Louisiana to finally bury the legacy of Huey Long and begin to enjoy economic growth.