‘Blueprint Louisiana’ makes pitchto get River Parishes on board

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE —  Wess Gautreaux has an answer for those who think the “little guy” can’t make a difference in the image of Louisiana.

Blueprint Louisiana is a grassroots organization formed in 2006, begun to identify and implement essential changes to fundamentally improve Louisiana. They now have a five-part change agenda which will better the state for success.

“Blueprint Louisiana was formed by business and civic leaders from communities around the state, and is now joined by thousands of citizens in Louisiana who have signed on, all as a way to try and make our state better,” Gautreaux told a local civic organization recently in LaPlace.

Gautreaux said that after Katrina, there were a lot of federal dollars for rebuilding, which provided the perfect opportunity for civic engagement, as well as establishing targets of excellence.

Blueprint Louisiana is completely funded by private donors, and is pushing its agenda through the state Legislature. They plan to have report cards on lawmakers, to follow whether they voted as they promised.

“We have 80 percent of the senators and about 70 percent of the House members signed onto our agenda, so we will hold their feet to the fire to get these items approved,” Gautreaux explained.

The five point plan for Louisiana, according to the “Blueprint,” is as follows:

1—Adopt the Nation’s Best Ethics Laws: Louisiana’s history of public corruption continues to harm our image, and national rankings highlight the real weaknesses in our governmental ethics laws.

2—Prepare Students for a Lifetime of Success: Student achievement in Louisiana continues to lag well behind the national average. To provide a strong foundation, Louisiana should continue to expand our nationally recognized pre-kindergarten program shown to dramatically improve student achievement. At the other end of the spectrum, we must do more to prepare students for careers and college, while decreasing the drop-out rate.

3—Develop the Skilled Workforce We Need: An alarming “skills gap” exists in Louisiana—too many citizens lack the skills they need to earn a good living, and too many employers can’t find prepared workers to fill open jobs. The Louisiana Community and Technical College System, with campuses across the state, is well positioned to direct the high-demand, industry-sensitive workforce training we need.

4—Provide First-Class Access to Health Care: Our state-run health care “safety net” fails to provide adequate access to care. All of our patients, insured and uninsured, deserve a health care system that meets their needs.

5—Build a Superior Transportation System: Louisiana’s roads are repeatedly rated among the worst in the nation. The poor condition of our transportation system is hurting our economy and making us all miserable. The backlog of projects is $14 billion.

Blueprint Louisiana currently has 26 steering committee members covering nine regions. St. John is in New Orleans’ region.

“As a local resident, the best thing people can do to help us is to become a member of Blueprint Louisiana,” Gautreaux said. “That helps give us the support so that we can push our legislators to carry through on these reforms.”

Blueprint Louisiana can be found on the Internet at blueprintlouisiana.org.