Now that we’ve established that many state lawmakers suffer from fiscal myopia, are they doing any envisioning – however fuzzy the view – toward Louisiana’s future? Representative Steve Carter, a Baton Rouge Republican, says it’s not the first time he’s been asked that question.
“My wife has said, ‘Do y’all ever get together and sit down in the Legislature and prioritize and plan and see where you want to go and see things that you want to do?’ To my knowledge, no. We should do that.”
The state does have its Coastal Master Plan, and the Revenue Estimating Conference does project state income for five years into the future. But when it comes to envisioning what Louisiana could be for the next generation, as Carter says – no.
We asked LSU economist Dr. Loren Scott what he sees looming in the state's future. He says Louisiana should be better prepared to deal with the retirement of baby boomers, by training now for job demand in several business sectors.
“Those different stages that the baby boomers are getting ready to go through: assisted living, then the nursing homes, then funeral homes. I mean, the funeral home industry’s going to be really big!” Scott says, with an uncomfortable laugh.“The question is, staffing of those places. It’s going to be interesting to see if there’s going to be robotics there.”
Robotics and automation are also in DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson’s vision of future needs.
“We can’t assume that we’re going to move everything the same way we do today, and that brings to mind things like automated connected vehicles, and how does the road communicate with that vehicle?” Wilson says. “If you’re going to have a driverless car, it’s going to need to be able to communicate to the structure to operate efficiently.”
Of course, prepping for these things takes money, but as Appropriations chair Cameron Henry has said, “Everybody would like more money – a lot more. The fact is, it just doesn’t exist. It’s not there.”
“We’ve got to wake up and decide what are the priorities of the state, and how much money do we need to make them happen.”