Gov. Edwards lays out agenda, expected to use executive authority to expand Medicaid

Gov. Edwards lays out agenda, expected to use executive authority to expand Medicaid

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - John Bel Edwards addressed Louisiana Monday for the first time as governor.

"Thank you, what a beautiful day," the governor said to thousands at the State Capitol during the inauguration.

The crowd included four Louisiana governors who came before him: Bobby Jindal, Kathleen Blanco, Buddy Roemer and Edwin Edwards.

"We're looking forward to another good Edwards administration. I think while we have problems, there's hope," said Edwin Edwards, who was Louisiana governor for four terms between 1972-1980, 1984-1988, and 1992-1996.

The governor spoke of that hope and change, saying Tuesday he will use his executive authority to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid. It's a cause he fought for in the legislature.

"Your tax dollars should not be going to one of the other 30 states that have expanded Medicaid when we are one of the state's that expansion will help the most," said Gov. Edwards.

The governor referenced U.S. General Douglas MacArthur and President Abraham Lincoln, weaving historical context with his agenda to also increase the state's minimum wage and his top priority: stabilizing the budget.

"If we don't fix the structural budget deficit, we can't fix any of our other problems," said Gov. Edwards.

Gov. Edwards received a number of standing ovations, but the day did not all go his way.

The governor backed Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, to be the next Speaker of the House. That did not happen.

"The heavy lifting begins and he's finding out quickly that governors don't always get what they want," said political analyst Jim Engster.

Instead, lawmakers voted for Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia.

U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, R-LA, spoke with Leger after the inauguration.

"I know you're disappointed, but you handled it with grace," said. Sen. Cassidy.

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