John Bel Edwards says he would fund higher education, accept Medicaid expansion

John Bel Edwards says he would fund higher education, accept Medicaid expansion

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The election for Louisiana’s next governor will be held in 15 months. On Monday, candidate Louisiana State Representative John Bel Edwards made his intentions clear before reporters.

He is the only Democrat, so far, in the 2015 race. But political analysts predict that could soon change. Edwards began his speech with a jab at Governor Bobby Jindal.

“There's a theme with this governor and the way he runs the state and how we take a cannibalistic approach to the different funds that are out there and the money we spend,” Edwards said.

Edwards eventually focused on presumed opponent, Republican Congressman David Vitter, warning that a vote for him would mean electing a "Jindal on steroids."

Edwards pointed to the billion dollar hole in the state budget. He said it needs to be replenished immediately to avoid unnecessary cuts to higher education and health care.

“Where is the disconnect? Why is it that we're still cutting? Why is it that we have deficits?,” Edwards asked.

Edwards said he has a long list of things he would like to tackle. The top three include, building the economy with enough new revenue to fund higher education; examining tax exemptions to cut spending and investing in services for Louisiana citizens. He also wants to accept federal funds when it benefits the state, like Medicaid expansion.

Political analyst Jim Engster said the biggest hurdle standing in Edwards' race for governor is name recognition. So far he is up against Vitter who has never lost an election and Republican Lt Gov Jay Dardene. 

Engster believes it won't be long before other familiar faces join the race including New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, former Shaw CEO Jim Bernhard, and Louisiana State Treasurer John Kennedy.  

Engster said they, too, could face a major roadblock based on their party affiliation.

"The question is whether any democrat can win a statewide race right now," Engster explained.

Edwards also said, if elected, he would post his travel plans to social media. 

It was another jab at what he said is Jindal's failure to be transparent.

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