Gov. John Bel Edwards reflects on time leading La.; explains what he hopes to come out of session
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - With this being his last year as governor, there are still a couple of goals Gov. John Bel Edwards would like to check off his list before leaving office.
Little time remains between now and when Louisiana has a new governor, and possibly with an entirely new agenda. He spoke at the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday, May 1, and reflected on his accomplishments during his time.
“I sat down to take a look at it the other day and was comparing and contrasting because up until now, I kinda did it one year at a time,” said Gov. Edwards. “To see where we are today relative to where we were in 2016 really, I think is impressive.”
While celebrating the gains he said we’ve made, like the recent bipartisan infrastructure bill from Washington, he denied playing any role in the widespread reports of folks leaving the state for better opportunities elsewhere.
“Well, as I recall, we went through a census in 2020 and we didn’t lose people, we gained population,” responded the governor.
Time is running on some of his big promises: like raising the minimum wage, exceptions for rape and incest when it comes to abortion access, broadband internet for rural families, and of course, a $3,000 pay raise for teachers.
“I got some indication this morning very briefly that the appropriations committee may have moved a fair amount of that money out of the budget. I’m not sure why they would do that,” added the governor.
“What we are doing in our budget is reducing state debt, which will provide additional resources for the state long term that can be used and save the locals money that they can apply to teachers pay raises,” explained Jerome “Zee” Zeringue, R-Houma, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
One of the suggestions was taking money from the State Health Department and applying it to the raises instead. However, it’s unclear what effect that will have on the agency.
“Well, we’re looking at that and we’re gonna meet with those folks to determine what that impact will be,” added Rep. Zeringue.
With this being a fiscal session, the governor also said he’s unfortunately seen a lump of bills that have nothing to do with fiscal issues and instead are - in his words: solutions in search of a problem. Indirectly alluding to bills like HB 81 by Rep. Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City, to prohibit using a student’s preffered gender pronouns or name in schools.
In the meantime, we’ll have to wait and see what lawmakers are able to bring to the table by the time session wraps up in June.
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