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Blueprint LA's second try may bear more fruit than first

Blueprint Louisiana seems to have learned from its mistakes in 2007, and appear to have made the group more relevant in these upcoming elections, even as it missed an opportunity to increase accountability of some politicians.

The group, which best may be described as pro-reform with an eye on efficient use of government revenues, formed previous to the last election with detailed policy recommendations and invited those running for state office to pledge to follow the agenda. While some candidates accepted, others, particularly the most high-profile, abstained, even though some articulated issue preferences very similar to the group’s. And of some who accepted, a cursory glance at their past records in office made outside observers dubious of these pledges.

Both of these aspects damaged the credibility of the group and so more than being a driver for policy change it ended up as a passenger.
Further, it failed to capitalize on what influence it could exert when it did not specify for each signer the fidelity of his promise prior to the 2007 election over the next four years for those who won. This failure surrendered its ability to become an accountability source.

However, it did crank out a 2011 agenda (actually, its second of the year), far more general in scope and eliminated any mention of collecting endorsements of it, with the apparent goal of emphasizing increased lobbying efforts for these broad initiatives – which represent sound and needed initiatives. Reducing the size of the nation’s only charity hospital system – preferably by leaving only a couple or so institutions focused mainly on medical education – certainly would save money and probably improve outcomes. Of the two big tilts at windmills, moving state retirement systems from a defined benefit to defined contribution system, as much sense as it makes already has been tried and got nowhere, while eliminating teacher tenure, again a surefire way to improve educational provision, has yet even to get out of the starting gate. The less controversial tinkering at the margins of criminal sentencing and consolidation of pre-kindergarten programs help but, especially as the first got addressed to some degree this past legislative session, don’t promise far-reaching results but some minor savings.

This change in strategy, which includes stressing member lobbying of policy-makers, indicates the group has come to understand that its best assets for promoting change are the resources it can bring to bear, both monetary and that its principals who seek to influence these officials are prominent members of the community. The imprimatur of “reform” carries a lot of cache these days (so that even those blatantly against helpful reform seek to label themselves as sympathetic to it) and, with impeccable credentials here, even without the bonus of encouraging accountability Blueprint Louisiana can have a significant impact in this fall’s elections.

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