Jay Dardenne’s Official Announcement Speech

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne hasn’t officially launched his gubernatorial campaign yet, but that’s changing this morning. At 11:00 at Westdale Middle School in Baton Rouge, Dardenne will make his campaign official, and via LAPolitics.com here’s what he’s going to say…

We in Louisiana are blessed to live in a state with God-given resources more plentiful than most; a place with culture, traditions and assets that make us a unique slice of Americana and a place that has been afforded opportunity after opportunity . . . only to see them squandered by mismanagement, scandal, corruption, poor policies and personal ambition.

But we continue to have opportunity come our way. Now is the time, as we face the most challenging budget crisis of my adult lifetime, to finally open the door and let opportunity in.

Today Cathy and I announce my candidacy for governor of the great state I love. I will open the door, boldly face the challenges ahead and lead Louisiana to new heights.
We have welcomed more people to Louisiana in the last three years than any time in our history, largely because the department which I oversee proved that with hard work and leadership you can do more with less. More people are employed in Louisiana than ever before and we have more economic development projects scheduled to come our way. But as we stand on the threshold of prosperity, we are faced with a self-inflicted budget crisis that threatens our future.

Understandably, our citizens are frustrated, confused and angry that these two extremes can coexist.

Louisiana needs a governor who can and will lead. . A governor who will manage prudently . . . A governor who will not campaign constantly.

We need a governor with the proven ability to bring us together, to work across party lines and regional divides.

We need a governor who will tell Louisianians the truth. A governor whose sole focus is on Louisiana. A governor who loves Louisiana and has lived that love his entire career in public service. I will be that governor.

I was born, raised and educated here as was my wife Cathy to whom I have been happily married for 31 years.

Serving our state has always been my passion, both in the private sector and in my roles as metro councilman, state senator, secretary of state and lieutenant governor. I have dedicated my life to making Louisiana a better place and I will continue to do that as your next governor.

As lieutenant governor, I have a responsibility to market the state to the rest of the country and to the world. It is a role I relish because there is nothing I would rather do than promote Louisiana and her people.

This role is more than preserving the state’s unique history and culture; it’s about creating jobs and growing the economy. It’s about supporting thousands of small businesses, mom and pops who showcase everything that makes Louisiana special.

After Hurricane Katrina and the oil spill that damaged our coast, the tourism industry was in shambles. The state’s current budget problems have meant less money to advertise and market our state. But I knew that tourism was too important to Louisiana’s economy to simply cut the budget, accept these limitations and hope to get by.

Thousands of Louisiana families depend on tourism and the jobs it provides, so quite simply we had to do more with less. That started at the top, with me . . . I eliminated the highest paying job in the Department of Culture Recreation and Tourism . . . I chose to do the job myself . . . That’s what I was elected to do. I shrunk our executive staff, just as I had done at the secretary of state’s office and put tourism dollars to work where they would have the greatest return on investment.

I introduced our successful “Pick Your Passion” brand and worked with the tourism industry to create a record breaking number of jobs. Just last week economist Loren Scott announced that 23,000 new jobs were created in Louisiana from February 2014 to February 2015. The largest percentage increase in jobs was in the tourism/hospitality sector.
Instead of letting the oil spill control our destiny, we immediately addressed the misperceptions about Louisiana seafood and the scope of the spill’s impact.

The results speak for themselves: we’ve seen record increases in jobs in the tourism industry, visitation to our state and, most importantly, money spent in Louisiana which translates to dollars in the pockets of Louisiana businesses and tax revenue not paid by our citizens but paid by people who have come to enjoy all aspects of our state.

In addition to last week’s jobs report, the University of New Orleans just released its latest study on the impact of tourism on our economy.

For the third year in a row, we have not only rebounded from the spill, we’ve recorded numbers higher than any time in our state’s history.

In 2014, 28.7 million people visited Louisiana, well over a million more than in 2013. These out-of-state visitors spent $11.2 billion dollars and generated $836 million in state sales taxes.

That means that for every dollar we invested, the state realized $38 dollars in income. Not a bad return. Maybe we could teach Washington a thing or two.

Thousands of cash registers jingling across Louisiana, putting money in the pockets of workers and young entrepreneurs, waiters, chefs and bartenders who work on a vibrant Third street here in Baton Rouge.

People look at the challenges facing our state and wonder if it will be too much to overcome. An astonishing deficit. Devastating cuts to higher education. Schools facing uncertain standards. And a backlog of crumbling roads and bridges desperately in need of repair. One thing is for sure. We cannot look to Washington style politics for solutions. And as of late, we haven’t been able to look to some leaders in Baton Rouge for solutions either. But you can look to me. I’ll do what I’ve always done. I’ll bring us together to solve problems while doing more with less.

As lieutenant governor, I’ve traveled thousands of miles across Louisiana listening to people and talking about what makes our state great. And I’ll do the same as governor. My commitment is to keep regional office hours across the state in places like Alexandria, Monroe, Lake Charles, Lafayette and Shreveport so that people in other parts of Louisiana will have easy access to their governor. We’ll do this without spending more money. I’ll simply work out of an existing state office in each location.

No matter what they say, no candidate for governor can wave a magic wand to fix the budget challenges which we must now confront.

The long term solutions will depend on the short term fixes that could occur during this legislative session. But know this: we will go to work on day one. We won’t have an inaugural ball. We’ll save that for later when our fiscal house is in order and we truly have something to celebrate.

Once and for all, we will create stability in the state’s budget, we’ll END the practice of using one-time money to pay for ongoing expenses; we’ll REGAIN the public’s trust by directing dedicated funds to the purpose for which they were intended; we’ll PUT everything on the table, reviewing and reducing state spending; evaluating tax exemptions, credits and exclusions to insure that taxpayers are getting a positive return on their investment.

I authored the legislation creating the Motion Picture Tax Credit and know that it has launched a new and energetic industry for our state, employing thousands of people. But that program, like all others, must be reviewed, reformed and reduced. It was intended as an incubator for an emerging industry and it has succeeded. We should not retreat from our commitment to continue attracting major investment in Louisiana but we need to recognize that there must be limitations and accountability for all of our incentive programs.

We must separate our wants from our needs by setting priorities and funding the most critical areas of state government. We will do this with unprecedented transparency in the Governor’s office.

Across the board budget cuts reward the inefficient and punish the efficient, thereby insuring mediocrity. We will fund government based on priorities. For me, those priorities start with education, transportation and keeping our economy strong.

Education is the life blood of opportunity. We need to insure that our children are prepared to tackle the challenges of the 21st century and are properly trained for the careers which are now in Louisiana’s pipeline.

Higher education is a top priority and it will be funded as such.

Given our vast natural resources, our deep water ports and our business friendly environment, we will see our economy grow over the next decades, but we can only make that growth permanent if we have (1) an educated workforce trained in properly funded technical schools, community colleges and four-year universities, (2) an infrastructure of highways, ports and airports capable of handling the growth and (3) a rejuvenated coastline that preserves our culture, protects us from storm surge and supports our seafood and oil and gas industries.

We are on track to receive huge sums of money from the federal government to implement the legislatively approved Coastal Master Plan to save America’s wetland. Funds from BP fines, the Restore Act and other federal legislation which we expect our congressional delegation to deliver, despite the President’s misguided effort to remove these funds from the federal budget. I also will ask Louisiana businesses and our citizens to contribute to a foundation dedicated to providing additional funds to address the challenges confronting Louisiana’s fragile coastline.

These are conservative principles that must be woven into the fabric of Louisiana’s future.

I ask all Louisianians, north, south, east and west, black and white, rural and urban, Republicans, Democrats and Independents, those of all faiths and economic status, to join our crusade to help Louisiana reach its potential and, once and for all, seize, not squander, the opportunity that awaits us.

I love our state and know that with honest, open and transparent leadership, our best days are ahead. Join me and together we will make Louisiana proud.



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