Stephanie Riegel | May 8, 2019
The Council for a Better Louisiana, Public Affairs Research Council and Committee of 100 are teaming up in an unprecedented effort to push for major, systemic change across Louisiana in four key policy areas: state finances, education, transportation infrastructure, and criminal justice/public safety.
Though all three of the organizations have advocated for reforms in those areas in the past, they say this new initiative—called RESET—will be different.
“This effort does not intend to simply hit the ‘restart’ button as the state has done in years past, surviving year to year,” says Jim Harris, whose firm, Harris Deville is working with the group. “RESET is an effort to start anew and create a true path forward for Louisiana’s future.”
RESET will be targeting the many candidates running this fall for open seats in the Legislature, which will lose nearly 50 incumbents due to term limits. That significant turnover creates opportunities for RESET to influence the policy issues that lawmakers take up during the 2020 legislative session and beyond.
“It’s time to take an assessment of where we are and where we want to be,” Harris says. These elections and the subsequent 2020 legislative session are a great time and place to get started.”
RESET’s policy initiatives will include proposed reforms and measures that are both familiar and widely recognized as necessary—yet have proven politically elusive for a variety of reasons.
They include things like: fiscal reform, improving the state pension system, expanding access to high-quality early child care and education programs, strengthening K-12 schools and expanding school choice, beefing up workforce training, investing in transportation infrastructure, and improving the efficiency of the criminal justice system.
How will RESET be successful in achieving systemic change where past efforts have failed?
“We need to put reasoned, thoughtful research-based recommendations out there again,” Harris says. “If we don’t try, we’ll never be successful.”
The group plans an official launch of their initiative later this spring. Until then, it has been holding meetings with chambers of commerce, lawmakers and legislative candidates around the state, including one at the Baton Rouge Area Chamber this morning, to push its agenda.
“Hopefully, with this type of partnership, the state will find a way to come together and achieve the very real change for Louisiana’s future we’ve all been talking about for many years,” Harris says.