The ongoing session of the Legislature will involve the usual contests among parishes and legislative districts for public resources. But in his recent address to the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu reminded the audience that political boundaries are a poor way to consider economic development in the state.
Louisiana’s parish lines are arbitrary borders that don’t reflect the regional nature of economic development, said Landrieu, who suggested that the state’s system of parish governments seems designed with the 19th century in mind, not the 21st.
A more logical view of economic development would consider Louisiana’s cities as centerpieces for their respective regional economies, with New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and Monroe recognized as key players in driving growth.
Not surprisingly, Landrieu argued for a special place for New Orleans in advancing Louisiana’s economic health. He said that a healthy New Orleans is vital for a healthy Louisiana.
“We really are one state, and what happens in one part of the state affects the other parts of the state,” Landrieu told his audience.
The mayor talked particularly about various changes to state tax policy suggested recently. “You can’t just talk about tax reform in light of, is it going to be income versus sale versus property that’s important,” he said. “You also have to say, what impact is it going to have on the federal, local and state entities that are partners in delivering a service. What you’re funding can’t be divorced from the impact it has on the ground.”
Landrieu’s call for thinking across parishes and districts in developing the state’s economy seems far from controversial, but that ideal is often overlooked in the heat of legislative skirmishes at the State Capitol.
We hope lawmakers keep Landrieu’s advice in mind.