October2015.inddLouisiana is in a fine mess, and we need someone in the Governor’s mansion prepared to take us in a decidedly different direction. Black Louisianans, especially, need a governor that has already demonstrated his respect and understanding for the issues and concerns that impact them. We believe John Bel Edwards is that candidate.

A 49-year-old state representative, Bel Edwards was the only major Democrat candidate to emerge in the primary race for governor; and he now faces Republican David Vitter in the runoff. Edwards says he’s running because the state is in a dire predicament and he is the “only candidate with a clear record of opposing the disastrous policies” of the last eight years.

He is right.

“For eight years, I have been in the legislature under Bobby Jindal. The governor has refused federal money, that’s just going to get spent in other states. It is offensive to me that the working poor do not qualify for Medicaid precisely because they work. I have filed legislation three years in a row to expand healthcare coverage in Louisiana for 350,000 people and bring $16 billion of our own federal tax dollars home that Gov. Jindal is turning away.”

Edwards says that while he has hardly been a “Jindal cheerleader or enabler” he is ready and able to work on bi-partisan efforts that help Louisiana.

“I am going to use the leadership I learned and practices as a cadet at West Point,” he says. “Louisiana needs honest leadership. I will work with local governments and business leaders. I know we can do better for the state.

Edwards will support expanding laws related to equal pay for women, adding that he is “the only candidate who has voted for meaningful enforceable equal pay.”

Tackling the state’s budget issues is also a top priority for Edwards.

“Our state budget problems are preventing us from funding the priorities of government, he says. “As governor, I am committed to (ending), capping and repealing portions of the $7 billion in annual tax giveaways that are not producing for our economy; growing the economy is a way that produces new net revenue, bringing $16 million of our federal tax dollars home over the next ten years to expand healthcare for working families; (and) never outsourcing tax and fiscal policy to…any special interest.”

Edwards also supports making the temporary measures taken last session to reach a balanced budget permanent. Last session, the legislature reduced a number of tax credits, rebates, exclusions and exemptions to raise additional funds for the state budget.

Edwards also has some specific plans aimed at addressing crime, particularly in New Orleans, including supporting the continued use of state troopers in the French Quarter and addressing the state’s massive mass incarceration rate.

“As governor, I will re-examine mandatory minimum sentencing laws for non-violent offenders and steer non-violent offenders away from prison. This means they can be taxpayers, not tax consumers, leaving fewer children in poverty,” Edwards says. “When we sentence non-violent offenders to long stints in prison, we are creating more violent offenders,” he says. We would have to decrease our prison population by 5500 inmates in order to be at least no. 2 in mass incarceration. This would also save us at least $40 million a year (to reinvest in re-entry programs and mental health treatment). I think that is a modest goal. It is one that we can achieve and get folks to agree on. So I would start with the modest goal and continue to work.”

As relates to other areas of public education important to many New Orleanians, Edwards says the Recovery School District was “always meant to be a temporary fix,” adding that he voted in favor of HB 166 to bring successful schools back to the Orleans Parish School Board.

The New Orleans Tribune urges its readers to vote for John Bel Edwards for Louisiana.







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