Governor-Elect lays out top priorities

Governor-Elect John Bel Edwards lays out top priorities

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Gov-elect John Bel Edwards addressed 1,200 hundred members of the New Orleans Chamber on Friday, asking for their support.

"I'm not going to keep doing the same thing that's been happening in Louisiana for the past eight years," he said.

He said the budget shortfall facing the state is significant.

"The projected deficit for the next year ranges from somewhere between $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion. Now, that number is more than one and a half of all the sales tax we collect in the state of Louisiana in that year," Edwards said.

He said all options will be on the table to fix the problem, and pointed out that higher education and health care took cuts in the past.

"The number one reason that I ran for governor are these cuts to higher education. Higher education is opportunity," he said.

He spoke specifically about UNO and the impact of drastic cuts there.

"In 2008, they had $42 million more on that campus to deliver an education to those kids. Their funding has been cut 60 percent since 2008, but the tuition on those kids on that campus has gone up 100 percent," Edwards said.

When it comes to health care, Edwards said one of his top priorities will be to accept, over the next 10 years, $16 billion in federal tax dollars to provide families with health care coverage.

"Because it doesn't make sense to me that we would continue to send that money to Washington, so that it continues to go to those states that have expanded their Medicaid program, half of which have Republican governors. This is not right versus left. This is right versus wrong," he said.

Edwards said he knows the importance of addressing crime, especially in New Orleans.

"I want to make sure that the police presence in New Orleans is sufficient, not just from a cosmetic perspective, but we have to reduce the crime rate."

He said a high crime rate in New Orleans can affect everything else.

"Whatever happens in the French Quarter, the Business District or the Ninth Ward, it's all crime reported as the official crime rate for New Orleans. It impacts tourism and economic development all the same," Edwards said.

Edwards is just one month away from taking office, and he said he's ready.

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