First, Happy Birthday, RedState! As you celebrate another year on the web, we are continuing to push for reforms to create a New Louisiana. We recently concluded our regular legislative session here, following our first special session on ethics reform and our second special session to cut taxes and invest in our roads and infrastructure.
In the regular session, we completely overhauled the workforce development system in our state to connect the more than 100,000 existing job opportunities in Louisiana with our skilled workers. To do this, we eliminated the Department of Labor and instead created the Louisiana Workforce Commission to match the needs of businesses with workers and to ensure our workers have the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. We also invested in a rapid response fund to support high-demand, high-cost training programs, and in dual enrollment programs to allow students to earn credit for college courses and workforce training programs while they are still in high school.
While we made several critical investments to support our reform agenda during this legislative session, we also worked to hold the line on spending by using the line-item veto authority to eliminate hundreds of spending items put into the budget by legislators. Last week, I issued 258 line item vetoes, which produced a direct savings of more than $16 million and an indirect savings of $27 million in the state budget. This was more than double the number of line-item budget vetoes issued by a Louisiana governor in the last 12 years combined. Additionally, in the supplemental budget, I vetoed several legislative projects to produce more than $9 million in savings for our state.
For too long, government has spent and spent, with little regard for taxpayer’s money. Pork barrel projects and waste were considered not just acceptable, but part of doing business. When I took office, I said that we must strive for real reform and not mere cosmetic changes to create a New Louisiana and make a clean break from the past where who you knew was more important than what you knew.
I campaigned on eliminating slush funds and I sent a letter to legislators to tell them I would veto any non-governmental project that did not meet our required criteria of having statewide or regional impact, being openly discussed, completely disclosed, and being a state agency priority.
We are striving for an efficient state government that operates transparently, and wisely invests taxpayer money in our state priorities. Of course, we have a lot more work to do and many more reforms to tackle, but I am excited to say we are already producing incredible results for the people of Louisiana and sending a signal to the world that Louisiana isn’t just open for business, but we are working to become the best place in the world to raise a family and pursue a great career.