Gov. Edwards talks about budget, I-10 expansion at BR Press Club

Gov. Edwards talks about budget, I-10 expansion during press club speech

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Gov. John Bel Edwards spoke before the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday afternoon for the first time since he was elected governor.

Edwards talked about Louisiana's budget crisis and emphasized that while balancing the budget was a real challenge, cuts and revenue raising measures must be passed by legislators.

The governor responded to Rep. Henry's proposal to simply shave six percent of funding to every agency.

"I think it's a bad idea to simply take across the board cuts because that's not indicative of the amount of work that you really should put into it to really figure out where your priorities are," Edwards said.

The governor said he has not heard the details of the plan, but it sounds like the easy way out. He said the right thing would be for lawmakers to make cuts only where necessary.

Edwards added that a cut like that to the state's Department of Health and Hospitals would hurt the state's efforts to renegotiate deals to keep state hospitals open.

The governor also shared that the state is in line for a $100 million federal grant to widen I-10 from I-49 to the Atchafalaya Basin and more. I-10 is often criticized by Baton Rouge drivers for narrowing to one lane near the Washington Street exit, causing heavy delays.

"That would fix the Washington Street Exit in Baton Rouge," Edwards said. "We would get a new on and off ramp on I-10 in New Orleans to service the new terminal, and there are some funds to also do some upgrades as it relates to a rail corridor in Baton Rouge and New Orleans."

The governor also said if Louisiana is granted the full amount possible, there would also be enough money to finish the construction of the on-off ramp on I-20 at the Barksdale Airforce Base.

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