NOLA tourism revenue should fill budget deficit

Louisiana has run an immense budget deficit for several years, which has had detrimental effects on the state. Governor John Bel Edwards proposed a budget plan that could potentially recoup the deficit caused by former Governor Bobby Jindal, but it was met with opposition by Louisiana State Congress Republicans. With Edwards struggling to close the budget, the Louisiana state government needs to draw on other sources to make up for lost funds. One solution is to draw on New Orleans’ tourism industry.

It has been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina, and the New Orleans tourism industry is thriving. The city saw a huge increase in tourist accommodations, including increasing numbers of hotel rooms, restaurants and attractions throughout the city. While the total number of tourists has yet to reach the same level as 2004, the numbers are close. Additionally, this number and the amount spent by these tourists are projected to go up in the years to come. These profits could be an asset to Louisiana’s budget. While it might seem bizarre for New Orleans to contribute these funds to the state, it would benefit the city to do so as the governor’s budget affects New Orleans and the city’s inhabitants.

A snapshot of the uptick in Louisiana tourism from the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

The state budget helps fund local projects in and around New Orleans. Hospitals, including the University Medical Center, and other healthcare programs could be impacted by potential spending cuts. Additional cuts were made to education, a sector that is already struggling in New Orleans and could continue to struggle under the current presidency. State police and other state law enforcement could be the target of cuts, as well as coastal restoration and transportation. The aforementioned cuts would be made so that state prisons and higher education, especially pertinent to the city and Tulane students, will not see decreased expenditures.

If Edwards’ initial iteration of the budget is implemented, there will not be cuts to scholarship programs. If Louisiana State House and Senate Republicans get their way, they would achieve minor cuts to the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students. Even in the best-case scenario, the city of New Orleans should do its part so that the state can increase funding for its institutions of higher learning, instead of settling for no cuts to what is already a relatively meager budget. Contributing some funds from tourism profits to the state budget in the coming years will help ensure that the state’s budget deficit will progressively decrease.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Daniel is a junior at Newcomb-Tulane college. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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