BATON ROUGE, La. (WVLA/WGMB) — Louisiana’s reelected governor will seek education investments in his second term, while resuming efforts to raise the minimum wage and dissolve a gender wage gap.
Gov. John Bel Edwards shared his upcoming goals Thursday inside the state’s executive mansion. The Democrat’s news conference came days after he defeated Republican challenger Eddie Rispone for the governorship.
“There would come a time when campaign season would be over, and it would be time to get back to governing,” Edwards said. “That time is now.”
The governor’s education agenda includes added pay for public K-12 teachers and more funds for early education. Another priority will be the state’s master plan for colleges, which aims to widen financial aid opportunities and dual-enrollment programs for high school students.
Passage of Edwards’ plans will require support from a more conservative Republican Legislature than what the governor encountered in his first term. The governor said he would likely oppose efforts to roll back taxes renewed in 2018, especially if doing so were to leave less revenue for education programs.
“I will fight any effort to turn our state to uncertainty, instability and deficits,” Edwards said. “We are not going to go back to a situation where we’re unable to invest in our critical priorities.”
The governor will meet with legislators in the coming weeks, months before they elect chamber leaders. The majority-Republican House broke a long history last term by choosing a Republican as their speaker, rather than someone in the governor’s party. The House is likely to choose similarly in 2020.
“If they want independence, that’s great. But obstructionism and independence are not the same thing,” Edwards said. “I’m just looking to have a speaker with whom I can work.”
Edwards also plans to retain ties with a Republican who backed his runoff opponent; President Donald Trump called the governor moments after the Democrat declared victory Nov. 16.
“He would very much like for us to get back to the working relationship we had previously,” Edwards said, recalling their multiple meetings since 2017. “I assured him that was my intention, and that’s what I told the people of Louisiana would happen as soon as the election was over.”
Edwards, the Deep South’s lone Democratic governor, will begin his second term Jan. 13.