This past Sunday, Advocate reporter Tyler Bridges published an article focused on the Louisiana economy and how it is performing under my opponent, Governor John Bel Edwards. Bridges rightly concluded that when you look at current job data, “the numbers are not favorable to the governor.” Like Mr. Bridges, I agree the numbers paint a clear picture of an economy that is in decline. While employment nationally has grown by 6.4% over the past four years thanks in large part to President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, private sector employment in Louisiana has declined. We are also one of a handful states that has lost population over the last 4 years.
Despite this crystal clear evidence that our economy is struggling when almost every other state is booming, Bridges and retired state economist Jim Richardson try to make excuses for Edwards by blaming the numbers on a downturn in the oil and gas industry. Noting that Louisiana’s oil and gas industry has lost tens of thousands of jobs since 2015, Richardson goes so far as to say the industry “took a beating” under Edwards.
Let’s be clear, our oil and gas industry hasn’t taken a beating from the economy. It’s taken a beating from John Bel Edwards and his trial attorney donors.
Immediately after taking office, Edwards sent a letter to parish leaders threatening that if they didn’t sue oil and gas companies, he would. Never mind that Louisiana oil and gas companies support more than 260,000 jobs and contribute more than $2 billion in annual state taxes. Never mind that those same companies also invest heavily in our coast, including by helping fund critical restoration projects and hurricane protection efforts. Edwards picked his team early on, and he picked trial lawyers over our economy.
Today, there are over 400 “legacy” lawsuits and 42 active coastal lawsuits against over 200 oil and gas companies. They have all been brought by a handful of trial lawyers looking to line their pockets from lucrative contingency contracts, all of whom are John Bel’s biggest campaign donors.
How can we expect our energy and job producers to keep investing in Louisiana and the coastal waters that surround us if our governor and chief executive officer of the State has declared all-out war on the industry? We can’t. We also shouldn’t be surprised that our largest economic competitor, Texas, is reaping the rewards of Edwards’ energy assault. Texas welcomes energy growth with open arms, and the economy in Texas is booming as a result of it.
I agree with Bridges that voters need to understand how Louisiana is faring when they decide whether it is time for a change in leadership. But let’s not pretend that our economy is better off today than four years ago when far fewer people are working and our state continues to lag behind the rest of the nation. Louisiana is blessed with vast resources and some of the best workers in the world—our economic growth should be off the charts. Unfortunately, Edwards and his trial lawyer friends have gone out of their way to kill jobs and stall our economy by waging war on Louisiana oil and gas companies. It’s time for new leadership that will bring that war to an end.