My swearing-in ceremony was December 5th, and I’ve officially been on the job for around a month now.  Being elected State Treasurer is an honor that I never imagined 10 years ago when I first ran for office.  One of the reasons I ran for Treasurer is I’ve seen how the people of Louisiana have lost faith in government, and I want to change that.

As a former legislator, I’ve had the chance to work with many of you.  Most of you know that I lay all of my cards out on the table.  You will never have to guess what I’m thinking about on a particular issue, because all you have to do is ask.  This honesty may have gotten me kicked off a few legislative committees, but it’s who I am, and I don’t know any other way.

The state budget was a big focus of mine during my time in the Legislature, and it’s something that I will continue to watch as Treasurer.  I may not have direct control over state spending, and I may not be able to pass a bill, but you can always count on me to be your watchdog and make the process more transparent.

One way I can do this is to remove some of the mystery surrounding the state budget process.  Let’s open up state government and show taxpayers how everything works.  My goal is to make it easy to understand and search to see where your tax dollars are going.

This is very important to me, because I firmly believe state government must be accountable to the people of this state.  Transparency equals accountability, and it’s time to be both fully transparent and accountable.

In addition to improving transparency, state government needs to start living within its means.  Louisiana families have to do it every day.  Louisiana businesses have to do it as well.

As a small business owner who’s worked in construction, development and real estate, I’ve experienced both highs and lows, especially when the housing market crashed.  There isn’t a penny I haven’t pinched.  State government has to learn to do more with the money it has.

I’ve already started reviewing Treasury expenses to see where we can squeeze out some savings.  As an agency we’re going to set an example of how the state can live within its means. We’re going to spend every penny like it’s a dollar and spend less money than we take in.

I encourage agencies across state government to do the same. Open the books, take a look at spending, and cut everything but the necessities. Once we’ve set priorities on spending and increased transparency around the budget, we need to work to improve the state’s bond rating.

The bond rating is just like your credit score.  We need a good score if we want to get cheaper interest rates to pay for new roads, bridges and schools.  A good bond rating is one of the best ways we can make it attractive for businesses that want to locate in Louisiana.

People have lost faith in government.  I’m asking you to work with me to restore trust in the process.  It’s our job as local and state officials to spend, save and invest the people of Louisiana’s tax dollars wisely.

You have my word that every decision I make as Treasurer will be based on what’s best for Louisiana, even if it’s not necessarily the most popular.  I will work with anyone who wants to do what’s in the taxpayers’ best interest.  My door is always open, so please do not hesitate to call me if you have a good idea to make state government better.  I look forward to working with all of you.