BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - John Bel Edwards was sworn in for a second term as Louisiana governor on Monday, Jan. 13.
Inaugural festivities began Monday morning with an invitation-only Catholic mass at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in downtown Baton Rouge, followed by a swearing-in ceremony at 11:30 a.m. on the steps of the capitol.
During his speech, Edwards laid out his priorities for his next term. His primary focus is on funding early childhood education across the state.
"We know that education is key to economic opportunity and the pathway to prosperity must begin at the earliest stage of life,” Edwards said.
His focus on education does not stop there; he also laid out a plan to increase education funding across the board and provide a bump in teacher pay.
"Over the next four years we’re going to continue increasing classroom funding and we’re going to give educators additional pay raises that will get them to at least the southern regional average,” Edwards said.
Other priorities for the governor include setting the state’s minimum wage at $9 per hour, passing equal pay legislation, and improving the state’s infrastructure.
"As our economy grows, so must the quality of our roads and bridges,” he said.
Whether Edwards will actually be able to accomplish any of these goals remains to be seen. He faces an overwhelming Republican majority in both the House and the Senate.
"The future is ours to seize, but we have to commit here and now to be great, to work together, to continue to reject the partisan rancor and dysfunction that plagues Washington, D.C.,” Edwards said.
In an upending of tradition, the governor has canceled the usual inaugural ball because he and many other state leaders will be hightailing it to New Orleans to attend the LSU vs. Clemson National Championship game. Instead, Edwards and First Lady Donna will host an inauguration reception in New Orleans at the House of Blues.
The inauguration ceremony featured a 19-cannon salute, an F-15 flyover from the Louisiana National Guard, as well as prayer and hymns sung by the Centenary College, Grambling State University, and Southern University choirs.
Louisiana’s six other Republican statewide elected officials were individually sworn in for their latest terms: Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, Attorney General Jeff Landry, Treasurer John Schroder, Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain, and Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon. Nungesser also delivered a speech.
Following the inauguration, the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) released the following statement, congratulating Edwards: