By Jeremy Alford
Whether its a nonbinding resolution or an actual bill, expect lawmakers to ponder the creation of a new Office of State Planning to provide technical and material support to local governments and others in their own planning efforts. While there isnt an official price tag yet, there are indicators. For starters, Louisiana once had an Office of State Planning before it was disbanded during the 1970s. It had a staff of about 20 people and a $4 million budget (adjusted for inflation). Today, the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission handles transportation and environmental planning with 20 full-time staff members and a budget of about $8 million, of which about 13 percent goes to salaries. Nationwide, at least 28 states have some sort of planning office at the executive level. A special task force has recommended to the Legislature that, after its creation, the Office of State Planning be evaluated to become a cabinet-level department. The report also suggests that the Louisiana Recovery Authority oversee the transition process and that the office be accountable to another public-private board to be created later. As for duties, the report identifies facilitating funding for local planning, developing statewide benchmarks, analyzing land-use law and more.