Governor Candidates Talk Business at Forum Sponsored by NFIB, NRA
The four major candidates for Louisiana governor in the Oct. 24 open primary brought their campaigns to Baton Rouge Tuesday for a gubernatorial forum on small business sponsored by the National Federation of Independent Business, the Louisiana Restaurant Association, and the Louisiana Retailers Association.
The four candidates — one Democrat (John Bel Edwards) and three Republicans (Scott Angelle, Jay Dardenne, and David Vitter) — sounded much the same on many issues but some policy differences did emerge. Here is a summary of the four candidates’ statements:
• PSC Member Scott Angelle:
We’ve had tough times before, such as when Buddy Roemer became governor or after Katrina and Rita. We have the ability to overcome great obstacles and succeed. Louisiana wants our governor to be right on policy but he must also be right on people. We need to get people from all areas, races, and genders together. Everybody needs a seat at the table. Many things that need to be done require a two-thirds vote. So our support must be widespread.
Something is very wrong. We have the highest GDP is history in Louisiana but yet we have a $1.5 billion deficit. Our budget process must be reformed. We need a simple, fair, transparent budget process. Our governor must lead with the door wide open. As a business owner and the son and grandson of business owners, I get the challenge of taxation and regulation. Regulation has become a problem of pea gravel. You can carry this one little pea on your back. But they keep adding more and more pea gravel until it’s too heavy to carry. We must get rid of the inventory tax.
• Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne:
I’ve been a lawyer for 30 years and met a payroll. Then as the head of two major state agencies, I’ve tried to lead by example. And I’ve shrunk both of those agencies. We do everything in our power to help small business. You can gauge future behavior by past behavior. We need a governor who will be honest with us and not be checking with somebody in Washington to see what our policy should be. Every citizen deserves a governor who is looking out for their interests. The Secretary of the Department of Economic Development can’t forget about the little guys. We cannot continue to put higher education on the back burner.
• State Rep. John Bel Edwards:
We’re going to have to meet some very tough challenges. We have structural problems in the budget, and we must have structural solutions. Higher ed has already been cut by $700 million and now they would cut another $200 million. We’re not spending what we should. We need to put all the exemptions on the table and not allow them to continue to grow unchecked. I won’t outsource our policy to Washington. We need strong bold leadership that also has the ability to compromise and govern by consensus. Many programs bring businesses here but few help the businesses that are already here.
• Sen. David Vitter:
This will be my last job in politics. I won’t kick the can down the road. I won’t worry about what the national media thinks or what an Iowa caucus thinks. I spent a year getting ready for this race and built a team that is ready to lead. Four things should be important to small business: First, I have a 98 percent pro-business voting record with NFIB and have been honored by them with the Guardian of Small Business Award for 15 straight years. Second, I serve as chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee and work tirelessly for small business. Third, I advocate fundamental spending and tax reform and removing some of the dedications and exemptions. Fourth, I am completely against the Jindal proposal on the inventory tax. I favor repealing the inventory tax and providing other revenue for local government.
All of the candidates said the minimum wage should be addressed by the Congress, not the legislature. None favored holding a constitutional convention to reform fiscal policy.
The polls show Sen. Vitter with a lead in the race, and the state Board of Ethics reports show that he is by far the candidate who has raised the most money.
The candidates will face countless other forums between now and the election, but Tuesday’s forum provided us a good look at what each candidate is about.