BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry hosted four GOP candidates for governor to ask them how they would tackle Louisiana’s biggest issues. At the top of the list: crime.
The republicans mostly agreed there needs to be support for law enforcement. State Sen. Sharon Hewitt said the gaps in agencies need to be filled.
“There could be incentives or book signing bonuses, things like that, that we could do on the state level that would help encourage more people to go into law enforcement,” Hewitt said.
Attorney General Jeff Landry, who has served in several law enforcement positions, is focusing on district attorneys that he believes are catching and releasing criminals. He wants to see reform in the criminal justice department.
“We’re a state of four and a half million people and we hold three polling positions in the most dangerous city list in the country,” Landry said.
State Rep. Richard Nelson believes in the long-term, the state needs to focus on education and resources for communities that will reduce the number of people who turn to lives of crime. In the short-term, he thinks the governor should use the state police as a resource.
“I think from a perspective of what the governor can do, the governor controls the state police, send those troopers down there to give the presence of law and order,” Nelson said.
Treasurer John Schroder, also with a background in law enforcement, said police need to be supported but also held accountable, like all other government agencies.
“So you have to empower them to do that. You have to be well trained. You have to pay them well. They can’t be the scapegoat every time something goes wrong,” Schroder said.
Another key topic is how each candidate proposed to lift Louisiana from the bottom of the list when it comes to quality education.
Nelson has been pushing a bill in the state legislature that would hold kids back in the third grade if they are not on reading level. He, among some of the other candidates, put a focus on trade school and community college education to help students fill much needed jobs in the workforce.
“You want them to be able to graduate from high school and already have those certificates,” Nelson said.
Landry brought up his support for a student savings account that would allow them to pick the schools they want. He also wants parents to have more of a say in what their children are being taught.
“Parents have been consistently blocked out of that process, not only in the state but in this nation as well,” Landry said.
Hewitt has been an advocate at the capitol for more STEM courses being taught to help prepare future workers for the tech jobs that are emerging to prevent Louisiana from falling behind in those areas.
With it being a fiscal session at the state legislature, there is a lot of talk about reforming the state’s complicated tax code.
Nelson has brought a bill that would repeal the income tax. Landry and Schroder both sounded their support for that move. The question then would be how would the millions of dollars from the income tax be replaced.
“If you want to compete, that’s a must. The system is completely complicated. It’s completely archaic, and it absolutely has to be reformed. We have to have an adult conversation about that,” Landry said.
The candidates were also questioned on the insurance crisis, how to keep young people from leaving the state, and the high rate of litigation in the state.