LANDRIEU: STIMULUS MONEY GOOD FOR STATE -- 03/01/2009
Office of Lieutenant GovernorFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 1, 2009
LANDRIEU: STIMULUS MONEY GOOD FOR STATE
Editorial published in the Shreveport Times
Shreveport - With the passage of the federal stimulus bill, Washington is sending some of our hard-earned tax dollars back to Louisiana. To get the economy moving in the right direction, President Obama's stimulus package starts with real help for real families right now.
It will create or save more than 50,000 jobs right here in Louisiana. And it will make sure hard work pays off, with one of the largest tax cuts for working families in history. In fact, the Making Work Pay credit will provide 1.7 million Louisiana workers with up to $800 immediately.
Gov. Bobby Jindal has signaled reluctance about the stimulus package, and indicated that he will refuse portions of the funding. Like nearly every governor across the nation, Republican and Democrat alike, I believe we should accept this funding now because it is in the best interest of our state. That's putting Louisiana first.
After all, refusing stimulus funding is refusing our own tax dollars, so that another state can take it. We simply cannot afford to subsidize the rest of the country.
By refusing federal funding, we are sending Washington the wrong message at the wrong time. Every day, we are fighting for federal dollars to restore our coast, build Category 5 levees and invest in our farmers.
In addition, this stimulus package is coming at just the right time for Louisiana. We are facing a $2 billion budget deficit that will have severe consequences for the people of our state. The stimulus package is a lifeline.
For example, we know that the best way to give our children a chance to succeed in a global economy is to give them an education, but a recent report ranks our state 46th out of 50 states. Tough economic times and budget deficits mean we run the risk of even more teacher layoffs and even poorer performance. This stimulus package provides funds to not just stop those layoffs today, but to build the classrooms of tomorrow, improve early childhood education and make college more affordable. In fact, 77,000 Louisiana families will get help paying for college through a $2,500 tax credit, and $718 million in funding will directly reduce planned cuts to our colleges and universities.
We have recently found ourselves near the bottom of state-by-state health rankings. But tough economic times and budget deficits mean less money to cover the uninsured or invest in better hospitals and medical technology. This stimulus package provides as much as $1.6 billion over two years for our state's Medicaid expenses, protecting access to care for thousands of Louisiana families who might otherwise lose coverage as Medicaid is cut.
After the failure of the federal levees during Hurricane Katrina, the people of Louisiana know the dire consequences of neglecting infrastructure investments. Yet our infrastructure was graded a disturbing C-plus, and tough economic times and budget deficits mean less funds for repairing crumbling bridges and pothole-riddled highways. This stimulus package invests more than $400 million in our roads and bridges, with eligible projects ranging from I-49 in Caddo Parish to the Larose Bridge in Lafourche.
As we move stimulus funding from Washington to the state and local level, we must ensure that our taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. To that end, President Obama has created www.recovery.gov to let citizens track their tax dollars at work. He has assigned a team of managers to ensure that every dollar is put to good use and made it clear to all of us in state and local government that he expects the same unprecedented level of accountability and responsibility.
Gov. Jindal and I have enjoyed a strong working relationship, and we sometimes agree to disagree. Now that the stimulus bill has passed, whether you agree with every aspect of the package or not, it is time to secure Louisiana's fair share of the funds and to spend those dollars wisely. It's about solving problems and taking a pragmatic approach rather than a partisan or political one. It's about putting Louisiana first.
Mitch Landrieu is Louisiana's lieutenant governor.