One business-development leader watching Governor John Bel Edwards outline a severe fiscal situation was Michael Hecht, president of Greater New Orleans, Incorporated. He sees two problems: cash-flow and correcting the budget structure.
Hecht says the state is facing two dilemmas: one right now, and one for the coming fiscal year. And they need to be handled like a business would handle them.
“First, look to cut expenses," he says. "Then after that, if we still need to, we would look for ways to increase revenue in a way that was consistent with our strategy.”
Hecht says the plunge in oil prices needs to be addressed.
“Let’s have an increase to the gasoline tax, which has not been increased in many years.”
Hecht says half could go to infrastructure, and part of the other half to replenish the state general fund.
“Everybody needs to remember that Louisiana is a rich state that’s been poorly structured," he says. "We have our river. We have our energy economy. We have our culture. These are economic assets that are the envy of most of the rest of the states around the country. We have to take the opportunity of this crisis to not just solve our immediate cash-flow problem, but to actually create the long-term structure that’s going to allow us to realize the bounties of this richness.”
Hecht says he agreed with Treasurer John Kennedy’s remarks delivered after the governor, outlining some areas of the budget where cuts could be made.