James Carville, Louisiana’s best known political consultant, once suggested a grand swap between Minnesota and the Bayou State. We’ll handle the cooking for them, Carville said, as long as they come down here and take over our finances.
Turns out Carville wasn’t far off from the magic equation. Just substitute Ohio for Minnesota, and scratch that part about all of us having to do the cooking.
So what does Ohio have that we don’t?
Well, the Buckeye State has a policy model that the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry plans to make a priority in the next regular session. The Louisiana chapter of Americans For Prosperity has also already labeled it as a top issue for 2018.
Treasurer John Schroder has been investigating similar concepts, and officials at the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association view it as an avenue for the government to rebuild goodwill with the public. Even Gov. John Bel Edwards is said to be "open" to the idea, and the Louisiana Budget Project likes it as well.
It’s called the Ohio Checkbook, although in Louisiana a mostly-conservative coalition is pushing to rebrand it as the "Louisiana Ledger" for implementation here. It’s basically a super-charged website that allows anyone to track and investigate spending by the state, local governments, school districts, pension systems and other entities.
Louisiana already has something somewhat similar called LaTrac. But it’s a clunky interface created roughly a decade ago, and it only applies to state departments.
"Technology has changed a lot over the past 10 years and there are now a number of groups that want to put spending online for all levels of government," said LABI President Stephen Waguespack. "LaTrac was good and groundbreaking at the time, but it doesn’t take things to the next level like the Ohio Checkbook does."