Our View: 2015 session must be start of recovery

Members of the Louisiana State Senate have officially gathered in Baton Rouge to start work on the 2015 Regular Session of the state Legislature.

The challenges facing our local lawmakers are multi-fold and this go-round comes at a time when the state faces a reported $1.6 billion budget shortfall that needs to be made up in the coming weeks.

Education is at the center of a lot of the debate and discussion surrounding the current politics of our state.

Because Louisiana is in such a financial hole, there are talks that significant cuts are going to be coming to both health care services and higher education – cuts that could significantly affect those already-thin budgets that have been slashed to the bone in the past half-decade.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal made his opening remarks to lawmakers on Monday afternoon. In his remarks, the governor was a bit close-vested and didn’t offer much in the way of details in terms of the things he hopes to see our of the 2015 Session.

His speech drew jeers from some and uneasiness from others as lawmakers seek to feel out what the future will hold.

The 2015 Session is a ‘line in the sand’ moment for Louisiana. We, as a state, need to come up with answers – quickly to remedy our problems and put ourselves on firm financial footing as we move toward the future.

This year’s Session has to be one where grandstanding is traded for logic; one where politics and party superiority are traded for what’s best for our population.

Our local leaders are staked with the challenging task of securing education – now and into the future.

When it applies to Common Core, maybe it’s time we all step back and take more of a ‘Common Sense’ approach to our education.

Instead of applying principles and plans that are based on what is popular amongst major heads in the Republican or Democratic parties, why don’t we unite and merge our interests to create a world that is best for the real staple of schools: the kids.

Whether it’s Common Core, not Common Core or something that is a little bit of both, it’s time that we quit playing mudslinging politics and find immediate solutions so that we can rise from the doldrums and better our educational positioning in relation to the rest of the country.

The same has to be said regarding higher education.

The 2015 Session is not a time to grant favors and to waste dollars passing cushy ‘pet’ projects that do much to benefit us today, but little to boost our tomorrows.

It’s time that focus on the real issues and create a no nonsense approach that helps our universities thrive and survive.

Higher education in this state is neck deep in rough waters and the risk of drowning is very real.

It’s time that our lawmakers realize that problem and throw them a little rope so that they can begin to float to safety.

Without higher education, where are we as a society? Without potential to properly train today’s children, how can we be equipped to succeed tomorrow?

We can’t.

But the problems of Louisiana politics is not just for those in Baton Rouge donning the suits and ties.

You’re voice counts, too.

This session is a call of action to all people in our state to keep in tuned with what’s going on and to monitor the situation from start to finish.

If unsatisfied with the direction, write a letter or give your local politician a buzz.

That’s precisely what the purpose of democracy is, and the process simply does not work without active participation from the people within it.

Don’t wait until tomorrow – the issues we have are pressing today.

Be active, stay involved and follow everything that’s happening.

This year’s session is a big one for our state – a time where a lot of very pressing questions will have to be answered.

It’s a time where everyone sitting at the table brings their A-game and does what’s best to bring us to a position to succeed in the future.