So, here’s what we know about the main contenders jockeying to become the next governor of Louisiana: one guy says he’s as Donald Trump as Donald Trump … another guy is alleged to be a Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in conservative Democrat clothing … a third guy apparently hasn’t been to his actual job in months.
Two of them say the state’s economy is in the tank; the third says the economy is just fine and getting better every day. One guy is running against the long-departed Bobby Jindal, another is running against the state’s expanded Medicaid system and the third—lest we forgot—is running as a self-made Donald Trump.
Depending on who’s doing the talking, Louisiana is either winning with a semi-stable budget, a tax cut and record employment … or … losing with a patchwork budget, tax hikes and disappearing employment.
Best anyone can tell, the only agreement among the three is this: guns are good; abortions are bad.
What’s a voter to do?
Such is life in the modern world of polarized, partisan politics.
What we don’t know, sadly, is what any of these gentlemen will actually do if elected to our banana republic’s highest office.
Rather than speculate—or impatiently monitor social media and YouTube hoping for something approaching substantive—let’s pose some policy questions to incumbent Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, his two primary Republican challengers—Rep. Ralph Abraham and businessman Eddie Rispone—and the rest of the field.
If any respond, I’ll post the answers for all to read. One request: Can we shoot for concise answers free of political speak … please?
Since, as we know, nothing gets done without the legislative branch, those running for the state Legislature are welcome to play along as well—with those responses also getting posted.
So, without any further ado:
1) There’s near unanimous agreement on the need for fiscal reform in Louisiana, what fiscal reform plan (specifically) will you agree to either put forth or actively support next year?
2) Do you support the following (Yes or No):
• Across the board balancing of revenue sources.
• Flattening of income taxes.
• Elimination of credits to reduce rates.
3) Does business—and industry in particular—need to give up many existing tax breaks and exemptions in exchange for a simplified tax rate that’s equal to or lower than the effective tax rate of Texas?
3a) If so, will you support legislation and constitutional amendments to enable local governments the autonomy to impose taxes, like Texas?
4) Should a state board have the authority to approve local property tax breaks without local government involvement?
4a) If so, in the absence of those tax dollars, how should local governments pay for fundamental services?
5) Would you introduce or support a proposal that excludes school-related taxes from ITEP, like Texas, or any other tax exemption program?
6) Not including federal dollars or state monies used to land the federal money, do you believe the state collects enough revenue to fund its priorities? If not, how will you address that?
6a) If so, why aren’t taxpayers getting a better return on investment (infrastructure backlog and pension deficit, for example), and where specifically would you get the money to improve the state’s performance?
7) What will you do to address Louisiana’s $12 billion-plus infrastructure backlog?
7a) How will new roads and bridges be maintained when the state can’t afford to maintain its existing infrastructure? Or, do you believe the state’s roads and bridges are fine as is?
8) Do you support a hike in the state’s gas tax, as Alabama recently did? If so, by how much?
9) Do you agree that poverty is Louisiana’s No. 1 problem? What specific steps will you take—or programs will you propose—to reduce one of the nation’s highest poverty rates?
10) Where does an educated workforce rank on your list of priorities?
11) Do you believe an educated workforce is the best economic development investment a state can make? If not, what ranks higher?
12) Do you believe existing levels of higher education funding—not including the TOPS program—are adequate?
12a) If so, how are they adequate given the campus infrastructure backlog and the multi-hundred percent increase in the cost of higher education in the past 15 years?
12b) If not, where will additional dollars be found, through new revenue or from within the existing state budget (where specifically)?
12c) Do you agree with those who say higher education should largely rely on user-based funding (tuition and fees)?
13) Do you believe vehicle insurance rates in Louisiana are too high?
13a) If so, do you support lowering the jury trial threshold?
13b) If not that, what do you propose to lower insurance rates?
14) What steps will you take to improve Louisiana’s ranking of 51st among states and Washington, D.C., in tort environment?
15) Will you encourage or discourage parish legacy lawsuits against the oil and gas companies?
16) How do you plan to address the crisis in small town insolvencies as identified by the legislative auditor?
17) Do you believe state government funds too many items that logically should be the responsibility of local government?
17a) If so, what specific actions will you propose to decentralize state government, and will you support the changes necessary to give local governments additional taxing authority?
18) Should Louisiana ban assault weapons?
18a) If not, why do you believe everyone should have an assault weapon?
18b) Given Louisiana has the 12th-highest firearm mortality per capital rate in the nation, what specific steps do you propose to reduce that number?
19) Should Louisiana have background checks that include up-to-date cross-platform information for gun owners; in other words, data that can easily be shared among law enforcement, the judicial system, family courts, and child and family services?
20) Should a business be allowed to ban the carrying of all firearms on its premises?
21) Should guns be required to have mechanisms that only allow for the legal owner to fire them?
22) Name one bold program you will launch and back fervently to dramatically boost the Louisiana economy?
(Note: Gubernatorial and legislative candidates wishing to respond to the above questions can email their answers to email@example.com. Responses will be published on BusinessReport.com.)