Author’s Note: This article is specifically about Congressman Mike Johnson’s response to Wallethub.com naming Louisiana the 2nd Worst State to Live. A separate article will break down the town hall with Johnson and Ralph Abraham in its entirety.
Representatives Mike Johnson and Ralph Abraham visited Leesville on Friday to hold a town hall meeting where they updated their constituents on national issues they and their colleagues are facing in Washington D.C.
During the Q&A portion of the meeting Johnson and Abraham responded to Wallethub.com’s recent list claiming that Louisiana was the “2nd Worst State to Live In.” The list cited unemployment, healthcare, and education among the many issues that contributed to Louisiana’s low rank.
Abraham responded to the question by citing similar lists put out by U.S. News and World Report annually. He noted that Louisiana placed at the very bottom of that list for three years running, which he said was “unacceptable.”
“We in Louisiana know we can do better,” Abraham said. “We have good people and a unique culture.”
He further stated that there is a lot more that Louisiana could be doing to perform better in comparison to other states.
“We have more oil and gas off our coast than Texas does,” Abraham said. We have the treasure, we just have to use it.”
It was then that Mike Johnson expressed his opinion on what is keeping Louisiana from being as successful as other states in many categories. He stated that Louisiana’s system of government is too centralized, and makes accomplishing anything much more difficult than it should be.
“We need to reform the way we do state government here in Louisiana,” Johnson said. “This is an antiquated type of government designed in the Huey Long era as a populist form of government.”
Johnson stated that there is a phenomenon known to many as the “Texodus.” The name is used to describe the large number of people that leave Louisiana and move to Texas to seek a better quality of life.
Abraham also noted Louisiana could soon lose a Congressional district, as more people move out of the state.
“Everybody seems to be leaving and moving to Texas,” Johnson said. “Why is that? It is because right now you can go make more money, and build a better life for yourself there than you can here in Louisiana.”
Johnson then compared the two state governments and cited their key differences. He emphasized that politicians in Baton Rouge have far too much power, while parishes and municipalities have far too little.
“In Louisiana the Legislature meets perpetually,” Johnson said. “The reason why they do this is because Louisiana is set up like a centralized state government entity. The Governor of Louisiana has more power than almost any other governor in the country, because he has so much power concentrated between him and the State Legislature.”
Johnson described how Louisiana’s government is set up, and why he believes that the entire system is largely ineffective.
“What they do here in Louisiana is tax us to the hilt, and then everybody sends all there money to Baton Rouge to this little hub of people in power. They then decide all the policy for the whole state, and they hand everything out in patronage,” Johnson said.
“The people in this state have no idea how there tax dollars are being spent. The people don’t know who to hold accountable for it. There is no efficiency in it, because it is a bloated form of government.”
He then stated that power is far less centralized in Texas, and explained how local counties and municipalities fare better when they are given more authority.
“All of the power and authority of the government is pushed down to the local and county level.”
He further claimed that Texas citizens benefit from this form of government because they can hold their municipal and county leaders accountable, and get things done more efficiently.
Johnson remarked that Louisiana has the potential to be at the top of any list that ranks the states, and that state government should not hold Louisiana back from success.
“We can do this better. We should not be ranked as the worst,” said Johnson. “We should be ranked as the best. We have the greatest people, the greatest culture, and the most natural resources out of any state in America.”