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Dawn Starns, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, Louisiana's largest small-business association, released the following statement today in advance of Gov. Bobby Jindal's State of the State address:
"Governor Jindal says he wants to build on efforts to recruit and retain businesses, which is great, but I hope he doesn't forget about Louisiana's true job creators, its small businesses.
"The fact is that small business is the thing that drives our economy. Small business accounts for 97 percent all employers in the state and employs 55 percent of the state's private-sector workforce, according to the latest federal statistics.
"In the legislative session that begins Monday, our members hope the governor and lawmakers work together that create an environment that encourages our existing small business to grow and create jobs. Think of this: There are about 59,000 businesses in Louisiana with fewer than 10 employees. If the Legislature can encourage even 5 percent of these businesses to create a single new position each, it would mean nearly 3,000 new jobs across the state.
"To that end, we encourage the governor to hold the line on the state minimum wage. Raising the minimum wage wouldn't really help anybody, especially the people some politicians and their friends in the labor unions say it would.
"The minimum wage is for workers with few skills and little if any experience. Businesses have only so much money. If the government artificially drives up the cost of labor, then employers can't hire as many workers, and they certainly won't hire young people just entering the workforce or those without skills or experience.
"Our members also are deeply concerned by some members of the Legislature who want to expand Medicaid.
"Our small-business members have looked at this issue from every perspective and believe expanding an underfunded, cumbersome and poorly administered program like Medicaid would be irresponsible. The bottom line is this: Does anyone really believe that Washington will continue to pick up 90 percent of new costs after 2020?
"With the federal government facing more $17 trillion in debt, it seems unlikely that Washington will keep its promise. That means Louisiana's entrepreneurs and small-business owners--its job creators--will be on the hook for any budget shortfalls resulting from Medicaid expansion.
"Our members want as much coverage for as many as possible, but not at the risk of losing everything else.
"NFIB/Louisiana also is asking the Legislature to pass comprehensive tort reforms, including legislation that would stop the practice of lawsuit lending, which encourages costly litigation that can destroy a small business financially, even if a judge eventually rules in favor of the business and against the person who filed the claim.
"We stand behind Governor Jindal on these critical issues and promise to work with the governor's office and legislators to find commonsense solutions to these and other problems so Louisiana's small businesses can continue to grow and create jobs."
NFIB/Louisiana has over 4,000 dues-paying members representing a cross section of the state's economy.