The three candidates for House District 44 all agreed on the critical need to improve the state’s education system but offered differing views on how to balance the state budget to fund education and other priorities.
Incumbent Rickey Hardy and Vincent Pierre both said a friendly tax environment is key to economic growth, while Roshell Jones said the state needs to reconsider tax breaks given to large, prosperous companies.
Jones said in written responses to questions from The Advocate that she supports tax relief for small companies but opposes tax breaks for “millions/billion dollar businesses.”
When the state stops “giving undeserved tax cuts to the richest companies and businesses in our state and refocuses its priorities to investing in the improvement of our state’s infrastructure system and higher education system, we will begin to see a dramatic increase in economic growth in Louisiana,” Jones said.
Pierre said the work to balance the state’s budget should focus on cutting expenses.
“If taxes are too high, we run the risk of scaring businesses from locating to this state,” he said.
Pierre did not identify any specific spending cuts he would support but said that state government in general could be more efficient.
“I believe there is a whole lot of waste in government,” he said.
He said would like to search for ways to trim expenses tied to the prison system, possibly through reforms that shift money away from prison to education.
“It costs more to incarcerate than educate,” he said.
Hardy said the state should offer more tax breaks to industries willing to locate from out of state and that he would oppose any tax increases at this time.
“You cannot have a tax increase when the economy is at an all-time low,” he said. “You have to manage what you have and try to live within your budget.”
Hardy said there are several ways the state could save money, including phasing out the leasing of state buildings in favor of purchases, offering early retirement packages for long-term state employees who have built up high salaries, and moving non-violent offenders out of the prison system and into community-based monitoring programs.
Hardy said the most critical needs in the House 44 legislative district are affordable housing, jobs and health care.
Jones said the greatest need for the north-Lafayette based district is to receive a greater share of the government dollars that flow to the Lafayette area — money she contends has gone disproportionately to south Lafayette.
Pierre, taking a swipe at Hardy, said the greatest need for the district is “a representative who truly represents the people of their district.”
All three candidates said that building a strong education system is the best strategy to address poverty in Louisiana and a critical factor in the state’s economic growth.
EDUCATION: Associate degree from Southwest Paralegal College.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: School board, state representative.
EDUCATION: B.A., Southern University at New Orleans; J.D., Southern University Law Center.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: None.
47, co-owner of a dry cleaning business.
EDUCATION: B.S., Southern.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: None.
WHERE TO VOTE
Ward/Precinct and location
10 J. Wallace James School
11 Moss Street Fire Station No. 9
13 Acadian Middle
14 Northside High
15 Northside High
16 Northside High
17 Alice Boucher School
18 Alice Boucher School
19 Cooper Drive Fire Station
20 Northside High
21 J.W. Faulk Elementary
22 Sheriff’s Training Center at St. Antoine
23 Sheriff’s Training Center at St. Antoine
24 J. Wallace James School
50 Sheriff’s Training Center at St. Antoine
51 Sheriff’s Training Center at St. Antoine
52 N.P. Moss Annex
53 N.P. Moss Annex
57 Mudd Avenue Fire Station
58 W.A. LeRosen Alternative School
59 Lafayette Parish School Board Office
60 Lafayette Parish School Board Office
61 W.A. LeRosen Alternative School
62 W.A. LeRosen Alternative School
63 Northside High
64A Carencro High
64B Carencro High
65 War Memorial Building
66 Central Fire Station
68 Lafayette Consolidated Governmental Building
72 University Student Union Building