Pre-K, K-12, trade schools, community colleges, and universities. Our educators have earned our respect, but we must support them in their efforts. Let’s pay them and treat them like the professionals that they are. Let’s also provide them with the professional development and resources that they need to do their jobs, because education is the engine that drives everything else! We have far too much standardized testing in Louisiana, which detracts from the real purpose of education. Teaching to the test does not prepare students for life, and it does not motivate them to learn further on their own. As a member of the House Education Committee, I could help bring about real change for the good of our educational systems, statewide.
There is a too much disparity among public schools located just a few blocks apart. We must close the gap in opportunity and resources within our public schools. Let’s stop making excuses about why we cannot raise the bar for all of our kids. I have developed a hands-on project-based learning STEM curriculum that has achieved results in a variety of school settings. It is something that works and inspires kids to want to learn more.
Louisiana’s citizens are already paying more than their fair share of taxes, but some large corporations are not. Let’s grow our industrial tax base through economic development, and let’s also get the most out of our state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) by incentivizing true economic progress and growth, rather than simply perpetuating the status quo with blind tax giveaways.
As a university professor, I have the capacity, experience, and professional contacts to bridge the gap between education, economic development agencies, and companies who can find competitive advantages within our local work environment, but these advantages must be marketed and delivered as “win-wins”, not one-sided tax giveaways. Too often, our workforce and the taxpayers do not get to see benefits that justify the enormous size of the industrial tax giveaways, and we’re all paying the price through crumbling infrastructure, failing schools, and poor job opportunities here, while those companies export their tax savings outside the state. We must become wiser in how we incentivize economic development and the expectations that we set for economic returns from industrial tax exemptions within this region of the state. We can in fact lower the state and local sales taxes as well as taxes on small businesses if we become more sensible in how we administer tax exemptions in Louisiana. Tax cuts and tax exemptions need to benefit “the many” not just “the few”.
Given our geography and all of our resources, Louisiana excels in various industries, but we should be mindful stewards and advocates for clean air, soil, and water, because we live here, and our health and quality of life are what matter most!
Louisiana’s politicians are in bed with lobbyists, and the concerns of the citizens are becoming less and less significant and invisible to the corporations that who donate to, rate, and control our law makers. “Regulatory capture” (when regulatory agencies are dominated by the industries and special interests that they are charged with regulating) has become the norm in Louisiana, and it has ruined the lives and communities of tens of thousands of people in our state. It’s time to reset the pay-to-play agenda within our political system that is destroying opportunity, human health, and environment in Louisiana. This is not just a problem in “Cancer Alley” but it is a growing concern throughout the state. We accomplished a huge “reset” out at Camp Minden, for very little additional money. There is room to expand that spirit of grass roots action to other problems. No company that is conducting itself in a wise and responsible manner should have anything to fear. In fact, I am very pro-big business, just so long as big-business is pro-citizen.
Be it the Jimmie Davis Bridge, our state roads and highways, or the Red River itself, we must demand the maintenance of good quality infrastructure, on which our economy and our very way of life so critically depend.
The negative effects of our crumbling roads and bridges are hampering economic development opportunities here, and some companies are considering leaving Louisiana because they can no longer safely and efficiently get their goods to market. We now have an $18 billion deficit in the basic maintenance of our roads and bridges. There is another $2 billion in deferred maintenance on our university campuses, with walls cracking, panels falling and roofs leaking. We must fix what we have before we can allocate money for new mega-projects that we don’t need. Unfortunately, this message has just not sunk in down in Baton Rouge, and our wasteful politicians continue to move money away from road and bridge repair to fund new billion-dollar projects that will cost us for generations. I am going to Baton Rouge to see that we spend our existing tax revenue wisely.