Here is Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace's Quick Take on Gov. John Bel Edwards' televised address about the state budget:
1) Edwards, a Democrat facing a Republican-dominated Legislature, has tried his best to cast the state's budget shortfall of roughly $3 billion for the rest of this fiscal year and the next as a bipartisan problem in need of bipartisan solutions. His speech, though, made it clear he gets that some Republicans don't want to play it that way. Edwards insisted he's got no choice other than to raise taxes, and dismissed arguments that there's a better solution as political posturing.
"Remember, for eight years, we've had a conservative governor with a conservative Legislature," he said. "If stabilizing the budget were as easy as cutting spending and simply reducing state contracts, that work would have been done. But it hasn't."
The part about reducing state contracts was surely an indirect jab at Republican state Treasurer and U.S. Senate candidate John Kennedy, who offered the GOP response. Without naming his predecessor, Edwards also pointed his finger at Bobby Jindal's fiscal management, even as Jindal's go-to political advisor Timmy Teepell took to Twitter to portray Edwards as a typically liberal tax and spender. (Kennedy, who is no fan of Jindal's, actually cited Jindal's habit of raiding pots of one-time money to pay recurring expenses as well, marking his one major point of agreement with the governor.)
"I don't say this to scare you, but I'm going to be honest with you," Edwards said. "No more tricks. No more smoke, and no more mirrors."
2) That wasn't the only time Edwards insisted he wasn't simply resorting to scare tactics. Yet this was a speech that was definitely designed to terrify people.
"Our health care system is on the verge of imploding," Edwards warned, before listing specific safety net hospitals -- Lake Charles, Bogalusa, and Alexandria -- that could close if more revenue isn't found. He also named specific services that could be cut off, including aid for disabled children.
The news was no less frightening on the higher education front. Edwards said that some campuses might not be able to meet their payroll or offer classes if the Legislature doesn't raise money.
Then there was a dire warning that is sure to hit plenty of families where they live: That TOPS, the immensely popular tuition assistance program, could run out of money, which would mean that many students would find themselves facing unexpected tuition bills.
3) Slowly but surely, Louisiana government is starting to resemble government in Washington, and tonight's speech and response marked another step in the progression. Edwards' direct appeal to the voters was unprecedented for a Louisiana governor, yet it's the sort of thing presidents sometimes do when big news breaks or major decisions loom. Same for the GOP response, which seemed to throw broadcasters off guard.
In Louisiana, there really wasn't precedent for such a public back and forth. Now there is.