Today, New Orleans struggles on the precipice of a Disneyland existence. Instead of the artistic and cultural mind that has blessed the United States with vibrant literature, creativity, and history, blessed it with its own native culture, our beloved city threatens to become relegated to little more than an adult ghost town. An echo of a great culture, as dead as the streets of Babylon, Luxor, or Pompeii.
That is our destiny unless we remember our greatest truth that has guided this city through 300 years of fire, flood, disease, and disaster.
It may sound like a cliche', but we are a family. Regardless of our skin color, religion, or economic circumstances, the people of Greater New Orleans, whether in Jefferson, Orleans, or elsewhere, relate to one another with love of living and community few other Americans, in fact few other human beings, can ever know--or will ever experience. Dysfunctional at times, but special among the communities of our nation.
After Katrina, our region experienced the greatest outpouring of financial incentives this nation has ever offered to a community. In many areas, it was not enough, but our local political class bears too much blame for its incompetence. Not just for digging in its proverbial heels in distributing the money and wasting an unprecedented oppotunity to reform our state, but for robbing the survivors of the most important quality they need--hope.
How many young people, who had hung on, fought to stay in Louisiana, just gave up in the months after Katrina--when it seemed even a deluge would not bring political change?
With 60% of the House of Representatives term limited, a new Governor, and a more pro-business Senate, we have a chance to bring in a new generation who will demand change. I ask for your vote, to be part of that renewal of Louisiana.
We have a chance to bring back that hope, and with it our best and brightest, but only if we engage in a concentrated effort to reform the way the state does business.
No family member of a legislator, up to first cousin, should be able to business with the state. This is the root of corruption when a "brother in law" needs a job or a contract.
in exchange for state supplemental funds for police officers (and hopefully higher state appropriations to bring about police raises) officers will have to have a ten minute conversation with every business owner on their beat once every three months--and in high crime areas, police officers must WALK a beat.
3-NO INCOME TAX ON RETIREES:
Along with the support of six other legislative candidates, Christopher advocates the phase out of income taxes for those over the age of 57. The approximate cost of such a plan, $250 million is a fraction of the current surplus, and will draw new residents to Louisiana. The estimate increase in state sales taxes for new home purchases, if LA gets only 10% of the retirees who go to Florida, is over $300 million.
There is an old saying, when the insurance industry has a cold, small businesses people go on life support. Prices are spiraling out of control, post- Katrina, because of lack of choices in the marketplace. State Government needs to increase the amount of choices--in two ways.
If we can provide a $300 million dollar inventive package to a German Steel maker, we can put cash incentive plans to draw regional underwriters to Louisiana. The "big boys" are staying away right now, but smaller state firms are up for grabs. Moreover, the state needs to capitalize adequate reinsurance for the companies that are already here.
We need to reform the state Citizens Plan to include professional management and adequate reinsurance, capitalize it with part of the surplus, and then adjust the pricing. There is no reason that Citizens must be 10% above the most expensive rate in a market. We could calculate the amount by the lower 50% of prices in the bell curve of the marketplace. This worked with the LWCC, and can work here. Eventually, Citizens could be made a private comapany, as the LWCC was.
Lastly, up to five years ago, under state law, if insurance companies did not pay a claim in 90 days, and they lost in court, the plantiff's legal fees were paid for by the insurance companies. Restore that law.
5-GIVE DOCTORS/COPS A HOUSE:
The state will soon own nearly 30,000 homes thanks to buyouts under the Road Home. This provides Louisiana with the best incentive package ever conceived to draw Doctors, Nurses, Teachers, Policemen, Firemen, and First Responders. If you are under 40 and willing to work in these professions for at least seven years, then you get a house, free and clear, and a low interest loan to fix it up.
6-TAX CUTS & BROADWAY SOUTH:
Along with restoring the itemized deductions under Stelly and other pro-business tax cuts, we need to implement Broadway South now. The proposal would extend the movie tax credits to legitimate live performance, theater, music, ballet, jazz, cabaret, etc. Using the GO-Zone tax credits, there are several Broadway firms ready to restore the theaters on Canal Street, and try their roadshows here rather than Boston or Chicago. A little town named Branson, MI embraced this concept 30 years ago, and today has 75,000 theater seats and hundreds of thousands of visitors.
In any state takeover of a school district, as has occurred in Orleans Parish, money should follow the child, not only to Charter Schools, but to private and parochial schools. And, enshrined in the constitution should be the principle, that if the residents of a parish approve it in a public vote, the state can take over a school district specifically to allow money to follow children to whatever school they choose to attend, private or public. We have local option gambling, why not local option education?
Louisiana does not have a money problem, we have a spending problem. The Colorado legislature passed a law to limit spending increases to the rate of inflation or the increase in population. Any extra money was used to pay off debt or returned in tax cuts. We can do the same. Considering the state budget has gone from $8 billion when Mike Foster took office to almost $30 billion today, do we have a choice?
9-TURN NEIGHBORHOODS INTO MUNICIPALITIES:
In Orleans Parish, neighborhoods like Carrolton are often forgotten by City Hall. Streets remain unrepaired and policing non-existant. If there is not response from the Nagin Administration, exercise provisions in state law that allow for neighborhoods to keep half of their property tax dollars. These neighborhoods into cities would keep Orleans Parish intact, but allow areas like Carrolton, Lakeview, or the Faubourg Marigny to control their own money. And, it only takes a simple statue of the legislature to pass.
Other concepts include greater cooperation in the marketing of the Port of New Orleans and other ports, using exiting rail lines to have a rail bus from the airport, through Elmwood, Riverbend, and Downtown, extending the Airline I-10 exit to the Earhart overpass, extending the business district lines down Airline and Tulane avenue, devoting money from transit lines to rebuilding streetcars and libraries, and using medicaid dollars to provide vouchers for people to purchase private health insurance.
Ultimately, Christopher plans to devote his time to marketing this district, and answering the needs of the residents and business owners. Every Saturday morning, he plans to be in a local library or meeting hall available, on top of his office hours, to help anyone who wants aid--whether they have an appointment or not!