GOP rise to power in Louisiana noted at St. Mary Industrial Group
MORGAN CITY, La. — The Republican Party’s rise to become the dominant political power in Louisiana is one of the most dynamic changes in the state capitol in the past 30 years, said Randy Haynie, a lobbyist who spoke Monday to the St. Mary Industrial Group.
“This is the first time in Louisiana that all seven statewide elected officials are Republicans,” said Haynie, who has three decades of experience and is in charge of Haynie and Associates.
This is probably one of the most dynamic changes that we have seen in my career in Baton Rouge,” he said at the industrial group’s monthly luncheon at the Morgan City Petroleum Club.
“Currently, 60 percent of the legislators are registered Republicans. In 1980, there were zero Republicans out of 39 spots in the senate. So, Louisiana has really started to move into a conservative category.”
Haynie said the Legislature does not want to sell the charity hospital system. “So, we’re looking at the LSU board to make a decision in the next 30 days,” he said.
Two of the nine hospitals would be kept as teaching hospitals.
“A lot of us think that the private sector can run it much better. LSU has the tiger by the tail. They can’t hold on to it and manage it.”
Haynie also spoke of efforts to reduce the state’s payroll.
“We have reduced state employment by 10,751 employees since 2009,” he said. “We still have on payroll 83,533 state employees. We plan to try to get that down to 70,000 state employees within the next two years. Just know it’s not easy. It’s tough,” he said.
“We’re not filling any state jobs that come open right now,” Haynie said. “We’re not replacing them with individuals. We’re actually trying to bring in new IT systems to reduce employment across the board. It’s not easy to downsize your business and let some people go, but these are the issues we’re having to deal with to balance our state budget.”
Haynie also spoke about extending Interstate 49 south.
“If we’re going to get Morgan City and St. Mary and St. Martin going again, we’ve got to get I-49 south completed,” he said. “I know you’re tired of hearing about it, but it’s close. You guys need to get re-energized, put a committee together, because I think in the next four to six years, I think we’ve got the intention of the Legislature and the governor to get it done,” he said.
“Lafayette’s already got their people moving,” he said.
The issue of speed cameras frequently comes before the state legislature, Haynie said.
“Do y’all have speed cameras here? It’s a hot issue in Lafayette and in New Orleans,” he said. “The city of Lafayette will tell you it brings in some income.”
Finally, Haynie had some words about the future of the criminal justice and prison systems.
“Guys, we cannot keep putting everyone in prison for even minor felonies, like a first-time marijuana charge or a DWI,” he said.
“We are spending more on state prisoners per day than we are spending on education,” he said. “We already have eight state prisons. We can’t afford to build any more.”
Because of overcrowding in state prisons, parish prisons are now asked to hold more inmates, he said.
“We got together in the last few years and went through sentencing guidelines, and we’ve come up with a way to try to take the least offenders and put them in rehab or some other process other than having to lock them up in jail. We’re working on it, but we cannot afford as a state, I tell you, to keep locking everybody up.”