For the past six months, all eyes have been on Baton Rouge as I have worked with the Legislature to address the largest budget deficit in the history of our state.
Following eight years of irresponsible and dishonest budgeting practices, my administration inherited a nearly $1 billion deficit for the current fiscal year and a more than $2 billion deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
I called the Legislature into two special sessions, directing them to enact a balance of spending cuts and responsible revenue. These steps were focused on stabilizing our budget in the short-term while making a down payment on long-term tax reform.
Louisiana cannot afford to continue putting vital state services in limbo, which is why I called a second special session and once again offered a plan to fund our state’s priorities — TOPS, K-12 education, higher education and health care.
Many legislators went above and beyond to answer this call. For that, I wanted to personally thank state Reps. Helena Moreno, Walt Leger, Jimmy Harris, Gary Carter, Joseph Bouie, John Bagneris, Robert Billiot Bryan Adams, Gary Smith, and Stephanie Hilferty and Sens. Karen Carter Peterson, J.P. Morrell, Danny Martiny, Wesley Bishop and Troy Carter, along with Senate President John Alario for standing up for the New Orleans region and the entire state. These courageous leaders exemplified what it means to truly put Louisiana first.
Unfortunately, not everyone in the Legislature shared the same mission. A small group of legislators refused to work to fund critical state services and renew budget stability. Luckily, they were in the minority, and only they will have to answer to their constituents when deep cuts go into effect.
When the future of Louisiana is at stake, there is no time for political games. I have been, and will continue to be, open and honest about the state of our budget and optimistic that Louisiana’s best days are ahead. I still believe this and will continue to work with the all members of the Legislature, business leaders, and citizens to make the right decisions for the state we all love, but for now, it’s these bold leaders who were willing to make the tough choices. They deserve our thanks for not accepting the status quo and putting Louisiana on a long-term path to prosperity.
For all of their hard work during 19 weeks in session, I want to say thank you.
John Bel Edwards