ON THE ISSUES: La. gubernatorial hopefuls address Press Club forum

Election HQ

BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) — Candidates for Louisiana governor continue making public appearances ahead of the Oct. 12 open primary.

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, Republican businessman Eddie Rispone and Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham each spoke Monday at a forum hosted by the Baton Rouge Press Club.

Here are some topic-by-topic highlights of what they discussed:

CLIMATE CHANGE

Abraham: “I want to stop these legacy lawsuits. I think they’re frivolous against our oil and gas industry, and I think we should make [companies] part of the solution. They want to be at the table. They want to be part of building the coast back. They have the technology, and as your governor, we should bring them to the table.”

Edwards: “Louisiana really does have an important role to play… We also have more coastal restoration and protection projects going on now than at any point in our history. One of the first things I was able to do with the first budget surplus was repay money to the coastal trust fund that had been swept out during Governor Jindal.”

Rispone: “We all need to play a role in global warming and do what we can. I know our industries have done some tremendous work over the last decade to do something with the environmental side… Going in there and suing the oil and gas companies and trying to extort money from them and not put it in the environment is not the right approach.”


CRIMINAL JUSTICE REINVESTMENTS

Edwards: “Criminal justice reform was essential because we were paying $700 million a year to have the nation’s highest incarceration rate, and we were not safer as a result of it. We are saving money, we’re reinvesting the savings we’re supposed to, and we’re safer.”

Rispone: “The criminal justice reform that was put forth was a good attempt. It was an attempt to fix things, but the rollout was where we had a problem… We had some dangerous people that were released that should not have been released. What I intend to do is work with the sheriffs, [district attorneys] and judges, and make sure we do it right this time.”

Abraham: “John Bel Edwards’ rollout was a disaster. You’ve got violent criminals that have been released that have killed, that have raped, that have assaulted after they have been released early. That’s got to stop… We’ve got to get the sheriffs, DAs, everybody that has a card in the game talking and coming up with a solution that actually works — and don’t worry so much about the money. We worry about public safety.”


MEDICAID EXPANSION

Edwards: “Medicaid expansion is absolutely sustainable, not just as a program, but it helped us address big needs at the statewide level… It costs the state less for someone to have Medicaid with no more than 10 cents on the dollar — rather than being uninsured, which costs 40 cents on the dollar that comes from the general fund.”

Abraham: “The first day, I’m going to fire [Health Secretary Rebekah Gee]. She’s a Planned Parenthood operative, and I want her gone. We’re going to get 1,600 people making more than $100,000 off the rolls, along with everyone who’s ineligible, so those who actually need the service have the service and can use the service effectively… We’re going to let [patients] have a seat at the table, too, and make some decisions that make their lives better.”

Rispone: “We put a part-time doctor over the largest agency we have — a part-timer. How are we going to get that done? We don’t need that. We need somebody who has business skills, someone who can go in there and do it the right way, to make sure it’s efficient, so we can save it for the people who need it the most.”


GOV. EDWARDS’ EXECUTIVE ORDER GRANTING LOCAL GOVERNMENT A SAY OVER WHICH COMPANIES RECEIVE INDUSTRIAL TAX EXEMPTION PROGRAM

Abraham: “It’s driven large companies out of the state, and they’re not coming back unless they have predictability… That’s why we’re the only state in the country that has lost jobs.”

Rispone: “What I’m going to do is what we should have done to start with. The governor didn’t even involve the manufacturers. He just issued an executive order, threw it in chaos. What I’m going to do is bring all the people together — job creators, the locals — together and come up with a plan everyone can live with. They do have a say-so in this.”

Edwards: “You’re entitled to your own opinion, as misinformed as you want it to be, but you’re not entitled to your own facts. I had multiple meetings with local officials and with business and industry before I made any changes… This idea that it’s not working is just belied totally by the facts. Locals will keep their seat at the table, because every dollar being exempted would otherwise go to local government.”


DO YOU SUPPORT FORMER GOV. BOBBY JINDAL’S TAX AND SPENDING POLICIES?

Edwards: “Governor Jindal took office with a billion-and-a-half in surplus and left me a $2 billion deficit. The way he ran his budget was the most dishonest, gimmicky, smoke-and-mirrors… Our state was deep in the ditch four years ago, make no mistake about it. We are doing so much better, because we’ve jettisoned all those irresponsible practices of the past. We make sure we’re responsible in the way we budget, and we have not put a single one-time dollar in the budget lined up against recurring expenditures.”

Rispone: “Bobby Jindal’s not running for governor. I’m running for governor. To speak about taxes and the way we did the budget before, I’m the only candidate up here who says we need to have a constitutional convention… We have to fix our budgets, we have to fix our constitution, so elected officials — the people you send to the Capitol — can do their job. Right now, they can’t do their job. We have a book of statutes, not a constitution. We’re going to make change there.”

Abraham: “Bobby Jindal very early in his career was for less government, less taxes, more fiscal responsibility and more personal responsibility. That does espouse the Republican theme. Whether it’s Bobby Jindal, whether it’s me as your next governor, those core principles are certainly good for the state.”


HAVE YOU EVER REGISTERED WITH ANOTHER POLITICAL PARTY?

Edwards: “I’ve never switched. I registered as a Democrat on my eighteenth birthday. It’s because I believe we have an obligation to do what we can on behalf of our brothers and sisters, especially those who are most vulnerable… We ought to lift up, especially, the middle class and those who have not traditionally had opportunities in the past to get ahead. I still believe there’s a role for government in doing these things.”

Rispone: “I registered as a Democrat at 18 years old, and it didn’t take long to change to Republican once I got a job and started working around the state and country… I like to put it this way: We want to teach people to fish and not just be dependent on us.”

Abraham: “I registered as a Democrat at 18 because I simply didn’t know better. Now I do. I am so proud to be in the Republican Party. We are pro-life, we are pro-gun, we are pro-fiscal responsibility, and we are about giving a hand up to those who need that extra boost in life — to get that good job and raise that family.”

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