Louisiana was on the wrong side of the news cycle this week.
The United States News and World Report released a long-term study this past week, ranking all 50 states based on health care, education, economy, infrastructure, opportunity, fiscal stability, crime and environment.
Our state was dead last in the list — literally 50th in the country.
Our neighbors, Mississippi and Alabama, weren’t much better. Mississippi ranked No. 48, while Alabama placed No. 49.
The metrics in the study are pillars of our society — basic, fundamental things that all people are entitled to. But yet, we rank at the bottom out of 50 horses in the race.
We believe it’s time for the state of Louisiana to take a long, honest look at itself and find solutions to get the ship turned in the right direction.
The Times spent the past week asking business experts about the list, asking simple questions regarding the things that hold our state back.
The first thing we were told by many is that our economy lacks diversification. This is of no secret. Our state is influenced heavily by the oil and gas industry, seafood and tourism.
When oil and gas and seafood flourish, so do we.
But both industries have been heavily in flux in recent years, and, predictably, we’ve suffered.
A report was issued last week that stated that our area alone has lost more than 2,000 jobs in the past 12 months. In central and northern Louisiana, people are suffering through a tough time, as well.
To get to the point of diversification, we also have to fix some other factors on the list.
Education in this state simply must be better. There’s no way around it. Louisiana has ranked near the bottom of the country in education for decades. And one of the biggest reasons why that’s the case is because of a lack of investment at the state level.
Education has been slashed, burned and gutted in government over the past 10-15 years.
Programs that were once offered are now dissolved at local universities. At lower levels, teacher pay at our state continues to rank far below national averages. Our graduates continue to leave Louisiana and seek employment in other states because the grass actually is greener on the other side.
We simply cannot keep losing our best, brightest minds to other places.
It is time that our local leaders put politics aside and find ways to remedy the situation at hand.
In sports, when a team is in last place for too long, the team owner fires the executives and coaches involved in making decisions.
In the United States of American, we, the people, are the owners of the team, and it’s time that we demand better results.
We simply cannot afford to be last place in these types of lists any longer.
We absolutely, positively have to get this ship steered into calmer, safer waters in the future.
KEEP AN EYE ON FLOODING
The Times will be keeping a close eye on the flooding situation around our state.
Our cover story on A1 this week is dedicated to the situation, but please note, because of our time constraints regarding our deadlines, the situation may be slightly different by the time the paper reaches your home.
We went to press late Monday morning and understand that most people get their paper late-Wednesday or early Thursday. With such a fast-moving situation, some of what we reported as fresh at deadline may be outdated or no longer valid.
For that reason, we wanted to spend time in our editorial to inform you that we will make our best effort to stay current at HoumaTimes.com throughout the week to ensure that the people of Houma-Thibodaux stay safe if waters continue to come toward vulnerable areas in the area.
Usually, we steer clear of stories with such time-sensitive material, but we felt this was too important of an issue to altogether ignore.
So stick with us online and follow with us. •