Louisiana residents feel slightly better about the state’s future, but that sentiment is far from overwhelming, according to a recent survey released by LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab.

We think the new numbers reflect a well-warranted perception among our friends and neighbors that much remains to be done in helping Louisiana reach its promise.

Results of the survey indicate that 44 percent of residents believe the state is heading in the right direction, up from 38 percent two years ago. Forty-five percent of those surveyed said they believe the state is heading in the wrong direction. That places the optimists and pessimists in a statistical dead heat. “From 2008 to 2013, the general trend was more people saying the state was heading in the wrong direction and fewer people saying it was heading in the right direction,” said Michael Henderson, who oversaw the LSU poll. “In fact, wrong direction out-polled right direction by 14 points in 2013, Today, that gap has vanished.”

Since 2003, LSU’s Louisiana Survey has tracked Louisiana residents’ attitudes about the state. Henderson speculated that the brighter outlook among this year’s poll respondents could be connected to recent news about new economic development in the state.

The survey revealed that about a quarter of respondents said business conditions are better than a year ago, and about the same number said business conditions are worse. It’s not a resounding thumbs-up, but the poll does point to growing optimism about Louisiana’s economy.

Public confidence in Louisiana’s future remains fragile. That reality underscores the urgency of crafting a state budget in the upcoming legislative session that helps nurture long-term prosperity, not political expedience.