On Thursday, nola.com posted an open letter from Gov. John Bel Edwards that was both a note of gratitude to lawmakers who supported his agenda over the course of three sessions beginning in February and a poke at the Jindal Caucus — namely Tea Party-inclined House Republicans — whom he accuses of playing political games.
I am sure many of you have heard, read about and followed the ongoing state budget crisis that has been unfolding in Baton Rouge. In the past six months, my administration has been tasked with assembling an honest, comprehensive budget while battling historic deficits and massively depleted financial resources. Eight years of tricks and gimmicks were used by my predecessor to mask the state’s budget problems, but we are determined to fix them.
In February, I asked the people of Louisiana to come together and solve our state’s problems. Never before had the state faced a financial crisis of this magnitude. I called the Legislature into two special sessions to address these issues. These extraordinary challenges we faced called for extraordinary leadership in the Legislature. However, a small group of legislators and state officials were determined to block progress. They did not raise needed revenues, nor did they offer any type of alternative plan to stabilize our state and fund our priorities, like TOPS, K-12 education, higher education and health care. Do not be fooled, our budget problems were not simply a matter of wasteful government spending. In many cases, the budget crisis literally meant the difference between life and death.
While some elected officials chose not to act, others went above and beyond to put Louisiana first. People like Reps. Helena Moreno, Walt Leger, Jimmy Harris, Gary Carter, Joseph Bouie, John Bagneris, Robert Billiot, Stephanie Hilferty and Bryan Adams stood up to those members in the House who were more interested in playing political games than solving problems. Sens. Karen Carter Peterson, J.P. Morrell, Wesley Bishop, Troy Carter, Gary Smith and Danny Martiny and President John Alario provided much-needed leadership and guidance in the Senate to compromise and get our state on a solid fiscal foundation. The decisions these courageous leaders made will make our state stronger. Brighter days are ahead for Louisiana because they chose to rise above partisan politics. I cannot thank them enough for working with me in these first six months to bring stability to our state.
This bipartisan coalition not only looked out for the interest of their constituents, but for the entire state. The unique sights and sounds of the Crescent City serve as our state’s gateway to the world. In addition to being the state’s largest city, New Orleans is our commercial, financial and cultural capital and has a major vested interest in what goes on in Baton Rouge. This group worked as hard as possible with me to protect TOPS, to ensure each patient was cared for, and that our children had an opportunity to succeed, and I cannot thank them enough for their work on behalf of the people of Louisiana.
Gov. John Bel Edwards