Mitch Landrieu presses lawmakers for real budget solutions and gubernatorial candidates for specifics

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu laid out his vision for a stronger Louisiana with a campaign-like address to the Press Club of Baton Rouge this afternoon, while issuing a stern warning to the governor and state legislature to produce real solutions to the state budget crisis.

But while Landrieu outlined his positions on number of hot button issues in what could have been mistaken for a stump speech, he declared with certainty that he is not running for governor—even though he expressed confidence that he could win if he were to enter the race.

Instead, Landrieu said he plans to voice his opinions on the state’s direction with lawmakers during the session, and he urged the candidates running for governor to find actual solutions to Louisiana’s most difficult problems.

“We should not be content with generalities or ideological platitudes,” Landrieu said. “If they want to call a special session after the election, what do they hope to accomplish and why?”

So far this session, Landrieu said all he has seen is short-term ideas to fix the state’s $1.6 billion budget shortfall, calling these solutions “Band-Aids on an infection that needs serious surgery.”

For example, Landrieu said proposals to repeal the inventory tax will only make problems worse. He called on legislators to stabilize revenue sources and raise the cigarette tax to the national average while also demanding that the governor immediately expand Medicaid.

“I can’t tell if this is just a sick joke or a nightmare,” Landrieu lamented over the state of health care and education in Louisiana.

He also expressed his support for the Common Core standards while stressing the importance of making higher education a top priority.

“The biggest problem facing our leaders today is that the governor has set up a false choice between destroying higher education, [hurting] business and undermining local government’s fiscal stability,” Landrieu said.

Touting the success of New Orleans’ strong comeback since Hurricane Katrina under his leadership, Landrieu also expressed his fear that all progress may be lost if the state continues its “smoke and mirrors” problem solving strategy.

“There is an old, very true saying, that as New Orleans goes, so goes the state of Louisiana,” Landrieu said. “But it is also true that as the state goes, so goes the city of New Orleans. We are bound together.”

Landrieu said the state is headed in the opposite direction of the progress in New Orleans, keeping both New Orleans and the rest of the state from reaching their full potential.

“We are partners, and that is why I’m here today,” he said.

—Gabrielle Braud

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