If you're having trouble deciding whom to vote for in the upcoming Louisiana governor's race runoff, let's try this.
Democrat John Bel Edwards and Republican David Vitter agree on more issues than you might think. But they, of course, disagree on a handful of topics.
Below is a look at key issues and where Vitter and Edwards stand on each. The information below is compiled from reporting done by The Advocate over the past several weeks.
Should Louisiana expand Medicaid?
-- Both are open to unraveling Jindal’s ardent refusal to take the billions of federal dollars offered as incentives to change the qualification definitions of Medicaid in order to allow more of the working poor to access the health care program. But Edwards and Vitter would go about it differently.
-- Edwards, who, as House minority leader, led multiple unsuccessful efforts to override Jindal’s refusal to expand Medicaid rolls, said he would “do it Day One.” In addition to providing tens of millions of dollars to the state’s budget, Edwards says, providing a means to health care for several hundred thousand Louisiana workers is “a matter of moral responsibility.”
-- Vitter said he would not take Medicaid expansion “off the table, but in order for that to be a responsible option, I think we need to make sure of several things.” Vitter wants a clear plan for how hospitals and service providers would provide the dollars to pay for the state’s match. And he insists that those taking advantage of the expanded coverage have jobs, a provision the federal government has, so far, rejected.
What are your views on same-sex marriage?
?-- Both oppose same-sex marriage.
-- Edwards differs from Vitter in that he would require public officials to follow current law. “I don’t believe anyone is free to deny those marriage licenses once the Supreme Court has ruled,” he said.
What are your views on marijuana usage?
-- Opposing the recreational use of marijuana is another issue on which Vitter and Edwards agree.
-- But Edwards supported legislation that would allow the medicinal use of the drug.
-- Vitter disagrees, saying the bill puts physicians, who would have to prescribe marijuana use, in jeopardy of losing their licenses to practice.
Should Louisiana raise its minimum wage?
-- Edwards wants a higher minimum wage to help raise the state’s lowly paid working class, about half the state.
-- Vitter argues that setting a minimum wage would inhibit businesses from creating jobs, the proven way to lift the underclass into prosperity.
What are your views on charter schools?
?-- Edwards is a charter school critic, and he has tried unsuccessfully to restrict their growth.
-- Vitter supports charter schools. Vitter’s campaign website says he would “fully support maximum parental choice and control, including all of our charter school, voucher scholarship and home school options, and actively oppose efforts to cut those choice options back.”
?One last, important area of disagreement deals with tort reform.
-- Edwards, who is a lawyer from Amite, pushed back at the pro-business sponsors when he criticized the Legislature's 2014 vote to kill a lawsuit that sought to put oil and gas companies on trial to pay for drilling ac-tivity that caused coastal erosion.
-- Vitter, in sharp contrast, called for greater limits on those kinds of lawsuits to create a better investment climate in Louisiana.
Edwards and Vitter agree -- to some extent -- on how to handle the state's much-debated tax credit program.
? -- Both candidates want to tackle the state’s budget, which has careened from crisis to crisis under Jindal. State government has been unable to raise enough revenue to pay for state operations.
-- Neither candidate sees tax increases as the method of raising revenues, and both agree that some cuts in government operations are in order.
-- But healing the fiscal structure will require rolling back some of the $7 billion in tax breaks granted as incentives to business and require unlocking some of the dedications that guarantee funding to certain programs.
-- Edwards has talked about changing the film tax credit program and a little-known tax break that benefits local insurance companies. But the only specific exemption he has said he would target is the payback for the horizontal drilling (fracking) of oil and natural gas wells. Ending that exemption would save little.
-- Vitter said he would further target tax breaks for installing solar panels. But a phase out already has been enacted by the Legislature and would generate little additional money for the state’s treasury. Vitter said he would get more specific once elected.
-- Vitter wants to require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to pass any new tax credit, which would make it tougher to pass. A two-thirds vote is required to raise taxes, but tax breaks can be added with the approval of a simple majority of legislators.
?More on tax credits...
-- Both candidates advocate a sunset on all tax credits and rebates, meaning the Legislature would have to vote periodically to keep any such program in place. “I would cap every tax credit and every tax rebate to make sure we know what they’re going to cost and so we can budget accordingly,” Edwards said.
?Here are issues and topics in which Vitter and Edwards agree.
-- Both are against abortion.
-- Both are for guns.
-- Both oppose Common Core.
-- Both say they will call the Legislature into session soon after being inaugurated to address the budget mess inherited from Jindal, whose management of the state both criticize.
-- Both agree that the money BP pays in fines for its part in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill should go toward restoring the state’s coastline, which is eroding in geometric proportions everyday.
-- Both want to tackle the state’s budget. Neither candidate sees tax increases as the method of raising revenues, and both agree that some cuts in government operations are in order.
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