APPEL: Same Old, Same Old In John Bel Edwards’ Louisiana

Sunday morning the front page of the Advocate featured an Tyler Bridges article, the headline of which led me to believe that we would finally be hearing something from the governor about his goals to improve Louisiana. It just goes to show that headlines can be very deceiving. Beside reading more like a campaign ad than a news story, the article just confirmed that there are no goals beyond increasing taxes and growing government spending with no interest in efficiency or effectiveness.

A taste…

Gov. John Bel Edwards has an extra bounce in his step these days.

No wonder. He just got rid of a heavy burden. After a 30-month stalemate, during which the oft-invoked “fiscal cliff” got steadily closer, Edwards and the Legislature finally hammered out an 11th-hour compromise on the budget and taxes that put Louisiana’s finances on a stable footing for the foreseeable future.

Now Edwards can focus on advancing delayed policy goals – especially a pay raise for teachers – and promoting his accomplishments to key constituencies throughout Louisiana. He is expecting a bruising 2019 reelection campaign when Republicans will try to send Louisiana’s only statewide Democrat packing back to his Tangipahoa Parish home.

Until last week, resolving the budget crisis had been all-consuming. And a deal was elusive. The resolution didn’t come until the seventh special session of Edwards’ term in office and the third this year. Edwards has spent much of his first two and a half years tussling with conservative Republicans about how much more money the state needed to end the budget deficit left behind by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

For many years now we have been waiting to hear his plans to get our state out of the bottom of the list of all states when it comes to the measures of public policy success. In thousands of words today all we heard from the governor was that his only answer to our staggering traffic problems is that he wants to raise gas taxes and his only answer to miserable performance in education is that he wants to pay back teacher unions by pushing for a raise in teacher pay.

That seems to be it. Nothing on growing the economy, nothing on reducing crime, nothing on reform of government, nothing on reducing insurance rates through tort reform, nothing on reducing poverty, nothing on controlling rapidly growing government expenses, nothing, nothing, nothing.

What I had hoped to hear was real goals aligned with real strategy to tackle real problems. The list is long, the needs are absolute. I guess that just being governor is more important than taking risks in order to improve the state.

So we better get used to being last in everything because apparently there are no plans to change anything.

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