Commission Makes Recommendations for a More Resilient Louisiana
BATON ROUGE — Co-Chairs Don Pierson and Terrie Sterling and other Resilient Louisiana commissioners last week released their report of long-term recommendations for creating a more resilient Louisiana.
Following the COVID-19 outbreak, Gov. John Bel Edwards created the Resilient Louisiana Commission to determine ways the state can better protect itself against disruptions, such as public health emergencies and natural disasters.
The report, Comprehensive Game Plan for a More Resilient Louisiana, highlights those recommendations based on input from more than 300 citizens serving on the Resilient Louisiana Commission and its 15 task forces. Public input guided the months-long process.
“We are pleased to receive this comprehensive guide for making Louisiana a more resilient, successful state in the face of challenges that come our way,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “As leaders, we need to embrace the spirit and intelligence of this document and take action to make Louisiana stronger. Public health, safety, education, infrastructure, workforce, the economy and the future of our children are all at stake. I encourage elected officials, the general public and our private sector to join me in acting upon the important recommendations of the commission.”
Hallmarks of the report are:
- Equity – expanding access to opportunity, quality of life and prosperity for all Louisianans.
- Public input – reflecting the voices of residents, policymakers and business leaders statewide.
- Economic diversification – accelerating Louisiana’s advanced manufacturing, information technology, water management, cybersecurity, aerospace and other sectors to grow an economy not overly reliant on any one industry.
- Sources of economic strength – building on Louisiana’s strengths in natural resources, infrastructure and logistics to expand the economy, leverage growth and enhance quality of life.
- Resilience – charting a path to a stronger Louisiana, a state more resistant to future disruptions.
“We are living through truly unprecedented times during which social, race and health issues have appropriately risen to the forefront of public discourse,” said Co-Chair Pierson. “How do we make sure to address these issues and form a Louisiana that is far better than when this pandemic started? The RLC has framed critical issues and is making significant recommendations for the best policies, practices and actions so that we can create a more equitable Louisiana. Our best future depends on it.”
Pierson, who serves as Louisiana Economic Development’s cabinet secretary, and Sterling, a healthcare management consultant and CEO, lead the 18-member Resilient Louisiana Commission that provided near-term recommendations in May for safely reopening the economy during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The new report reflects the commission’s second major duty: recommending long-term steps to resiliency.
“Access to healthcare is broader than bricks and mortar,” Co-Chair Sterling said. “It is important to create systems and structures to support the health of our citizens, as we certainly may face pandemics and public health challenges in the future.”
The commission’s long-term recommendations include making strategic investments in public health infrastructure and programs to enhance the well-being of Louisiana residents, with a focus on healthy food programs, rural hospital stabilization and access to broadband internet statewide that can improve education and telemedicine services.
Other recommendations include creating an Office of Social Equity to address gender equity, housing, homelessness, and community vulnerabilities; expanding economic inclusion through the creation of an Office of Rural Development, through a living wage initiative, through incentives that promote equitable economic opportunity, and through increased business opportunity for women, minority and veteran entrepreneurs.
In addition to prioritized investment in early childhood education, transportation infrastructure, more resilient utilities, and better training pathways to jobs, the commission recommends tools to produce better outcomes in higher education, along with fiscal reforms to simplify and broaden the state’s tax structure.
Louisiana Department of Revenue Secretary Kimberly Robinson and Commission of Administration Jay Dardenne serve as ex-officio members of the Resilient Louisiana Commission.
“To attain more resilience, our state needs appropriate levels of funding to provide for adequate public services and foster widespread, attainable opportunities for its people,” Robinson said. “A fair and balanced tax structure can help us achieve this goal.”
“The broad-based RLC will provide Louisiana with a blueprint for managing change and focusing on how to diversify and expand our economy as the future unfolds,” Dardenne said.