(The Advocate)- Pay raises for Louisiana teachers will be Gov. John Bel Edwards’ priority heading into 2019, but there are some items on the governor’s wish list that have remained elusive as he heads into the final year of his first term.
“I’m optimistic because if you talk to Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, there is near universal support for the (teacher) pay raise,” Edwards told reporters during a year-end news conference at the Governor’s Mansion on Wednesday. “It’s my No. 1 priority for the next year’s session.”
But the inability to address two other priorities — both coincidentally issues dealing with pay, as well — top the governor’s list of disappointments during his first three years in office.
Edwards, a Democrat who took office in 2016 and is seeking re-election in 2019, had campaigned on support for an increase in the minimum wage and efforts to address equal pay.
“It’s no secret that I ran on, believe in, and have on multiple occasions asked the Legislature to increase the minimum wage in Louisiana,” he said. “That has not happened, and I think that is a travesty.”
Both proposals have been repeatedly rejected in the GOP-controlled Legislature after intense lobbying from business groups.
“We’re going to keep fighting for it but I’m very disappointed to stand here at the end of my third year and tell you we haven’t been able to get that done,” Edwards said.
Two Republicans have announced plans to challenge Edwards as he seeks a second term – Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone and U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, of Alto.