One Acadiana Releases 2015 Legislative Priorities
One Acadiana is advancing a set of focused legislative priorities during the 2015 legislative session. The priorities were adopted by the board of directors, following a process that included One Acadiana’s policy committees and other input from the regional business community.
President & CEO Jason El Koubi underscored One Acadiana’s commitment to maintaining and improving economic competitiveness, “As a region and a state we cannot afford to lose sight of our long-term potential for growth. We believe our legislative priorities set the tone for preserving and encouraging that potential. Our leaders face an enormous challenge in eliminating the budget deficit, but the debate must not create a false choice between slamming the brakes on our state's economic development and slashing important investments in our future, including higher education and workforce development. We are working with legislators from our nine-parish region to encourage a responsible solution.”
One Acadiana’s 2015 legislative priorities include:
- Fiscal Responsibility: Defend Louisiana's competitive business climate by opposing initiatives that seek to reduce the budget deficit by significantly increasing the tax burden on businesses, while advancing key investments in our future, including higher education and workforce development.
- Economic Development: Preserve statewide economic development momentum by defending key incentive programs, especially the research and development tax credit and angel investor tax credit, and ensuring predictably of economic development programs.
- Transportation Infrastructure: Restore public trust in the Transportation Trust Fund and support initiatives that provide adequate and increased funding for transportation infrastructure priorities, including completion of I-49 South.
- Workforce Development: Support stable, competitive funding and increased autonomy for higher education institutions, including full tuition and fee autonomy.
- Public Education: Maintain rigorous academic standards, including Common Core State Standards, matched with a fair, robust accountability system intended to increase student preparedness and achievement.
- Legal Climate Reform: Ensure a more business-friendly, nationally competitive legal climate through increased judicial transparency and initiatives that create parity between Louisiana's judicial system and those of other states.
“One Acadiana’s legislative priorities are shaped by issues that are most important to the future of our regional economy,” stated Allyson Pharr, Senior Vice President of Acadian Companies and Chairman of One Acadiana’s Governmental Relations Committee. “It is crucial that we let our delegation know what issues matter most to businesses across our nine-parish region.”
Representative Vincent Pierre, Chairman of the Acadiana Delegation, applauded One Acadiana for working to bring legislators and business leaders together, “Many members of the Acadiana Delegation met recently with One Acadiana members to discuss ways we can work together, and I am thrilled to see a new level of collaboration between our regional business community and its legislators that will help take our region to the next level.”
Acadiana’s higher education leadership was united in their support for increased autonomy for their institutions.
Dr. Joseph Savoie, President of University of Louisiana at Lafayette, was firm in his support for competitive funding. “In order to educate the workforce demanded by Louisiana’s economy, we need stable, competitive funding for higher education. It’s no secret that Louisiana’s colleges and universities are hamstrung relative to our peers. Increasing institutions' autonomy, including tuition and fee decisions, will begin to level the playing field.”
Dr. Natalie Harder, Chancellor of South Louisiana Community College, emphasized the benefits of increased autonomy. "We are forcing our institutions to be inefficient. By cutting these strings higher education can more purposeful about where their funds are spent, such as investing in high demand/high wage programs for the citizens of our state, instead of spending resources in areas which do not make sense, merely because they are legislated to do so."
Acadiana legislators also voiced their support for a number of One Acadiana’s legislative priorities.
Representative Joel Robideaux, "We're working hard to balance the budget in a way that protects our state's business climate while also preserving important investments in our state's future, including higher education and workforce development. We must be fiscally responsible while advancing our strategic priorities in the budget."
Representative Terry Landry highlighted the need to ensure adequate funding for transportation infrastructure. “Prioritizing funding for roads and bridges must remain a top priority. We cannot continue to divert transportation trust fund dollars away from critical infrastructure and ignore the fact that our transportation backlog is $12 billion.”
House Bill 208 by Rep. Terry Landry would reform the state's transportation trust fund to prevent it from being “raided” and limit the amount of the fund that can be used for non-infrastructure expenditures.
Representative Stuart Bishop voiced his commitment to improving Louisiana’s legal climate. “For too long our judicial system has been given a special protected status and it’s time to increase judicial transparency by requiring the same type of personal financial disclosure as other public officials”
HB 294 by Rep. Stuart Bishop would require personal financial disclosure by judges and justices of the peace. Similarly, HB 293 by Rep. Taylor Barras would require the State Supreme Court to establish and maintain a website to post information concerning contracts.
One Acadiana's 2015 legislative priorities are available for download by clicking here or by visiting their website at www.oneacadiana.org.