Newly-elected Gov. John Bel Edwards says he’s aware that critics have accused him of flip flopping after saying on the campaign trail that he didn’t plan to raise taxes.
In an interview with reporters and editors from The Advocate on Wednesday, Edwards defended his position, restating that he was not aware that the budget crisis was so dire.
“There are people out there — not many of them but some of them — that say, ‘Edwards lied when he was running, he said he wasn’t going to raise taxes during the campaign,'” he said. “Nobody, nobody knew that the problem was going to be over $2 billion next year,” or that the shortfall for this year would grow to exceed $800 million.
Edwards is now proposing a one-cent sales tax hike and a 22-cent increase in the state cigarette tax, among several other proposals for shoring up the budget.
The Revenue Estimating Conference readjusted the projected revenue for the budget that ends June 30,and now the estimatedshortfall is about $850 million in the current year and about $2 billion for the budget that begins July 1.
When Edwards was running for office, the shortfall estimates were $400 million for this year and $1 billion for the following year.
“If the facts change, you have to change the solutions too, otherwise you’re being irresponsible,” Edwards said Wednesday. “So, for those people who want to say Edwards lied, I understand. They ought to say it to get it out of their system, then they ought to come back and work with me.”