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Getting to Yes: A Letter for Dr. Rozeman

Getting to Yes: A Letter for Dr. Rozeman

Getting to Yes, is a book written 35 years ago by the lead negotiators of the successful Camp David accord between Israel and Egypt in 1978. It was an agreement between two nations with a 3,000 year history of hostility. One of the author’s key points is that successful negotiations “focus on interest - not positions”. This is the place to start Louisiana’s mission of getting its financial house in order.

Today, there are three key parties in this discussion – the Governor, the legislature, and the business community. The process took a wrong turn last year with plenty of blame to go around. Last year’s focus on name-calling and the blame game is not a milieu that lends itself well to problem-solving.

That approach must be overcome this year if difficult work is to be done. People outside the bubble of Baton Rouge know they have to swallow their pride and work together to solve problems in the private and nonprofit sectors. They expect the same from the people inside the bubble.

The key interests heard in the discussion yesterday with business leaders, were simplicity, predictability, and fairness in the budget and tax system of Louisiana. Business leaders felt it was important to broaden the number of people paying taxes and to lower the burden on small businesses, which often pay too much.

Business leaders in the meeting also thought the discussion should be elevated from the mechanics of tax reform to a “return on investment” evaluation. This means supporting the priorities that have shown success and reevaluating those of importance that are not working well. It also means we need to quit doing those things that are not necessary and even those things that are counterproductive.

The focus on “return on investment” also means coming to an agreement that services provided by government are in fact important services. We do need to support public education and provide health care for people. We do require roads and bridges and we do need to help support job creation. Success by our state government in those areas will equate to the success of the people of Louisiana. Business leaders just want efficiency and effectiveness.

Business leaders in the room believed there was enough data gathered by the HCR11 Task Force to make reasonable decisions. They know leadership is needed from all parties – the Governor, the legislature, and the business community. Also, they know nothing will happen in any negotiation if everyone stakes out their position with no thought to outlining a shared interest and a common goal. That is the start of the painstaking process of compromise and agreement.

The messages relayed and the way they are related by all parties will be the key to any success being achieved. What business leaders ask for is vision and a positive message of hope in the state they choose to do business and a state they love.


Dr. Phillip Rozeman
C100-Executive Committee Member

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