What they said: Louisiana governor’s Sept. 26 debate

Marina Prestenbach and Kyasia Hunt

@MarinaPrestenb1 and @KyasiaHunt

Watch the debate in full on Youtube, courtesy of Louisiana Public Broadcasting:

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette held the second televised Louisiana governor’s debate on Sept. 26. The three gubernatorial candidates participated in the debate: incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards, Rep. Ralph Abraham and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone.

The debate was hosted by Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL) with Beth Courtney, President of LPB and Barry Erwin, Executive Director of CABL, as the moderators of the debate.

Questions were asked by a panel of journalists that consisted of Mark Ballard of The Advocate, Greg Hilburn of the USA Today Network and Natasha Williams of LPB.

Here’s what the candidates said about the major issues.

Supporting a constitutional convention

Rispone: “I do support the constitutional convention. I think we need to do that to bring us to the 21st century. We have to make Louisiana competitive with the rest of the country and that’s where we start. The articles I would definitely look at are revenues and taxation.”

Edwards: “I am not in support of a constitutional convention. A few years ago, there were a lot of people who thought one would be necessary in order to allow us to solve our problems and achieve the stability that we have lacked for so long, but the fact of the matter is that we were able to come together under my leadership, Republicans and Democrats, create the stability that we need, and we’ve been able to move forward.”

Abraham: “ I am not opposed to a constitutional convention, but I am running to lead the state, and with a supermajority of fiscal conservatives, which I think we will truly have after the Nov. election, we can move fiscal reform very quickly with a conservative governor and a conservative legislature.”

Providing Jobs

Rispone: “I am the only candidate up here that’s a job creator. I know how to create jobs. I’ve done that for 40 years. I know how to work with job creators. Louisiana is the only state losing jobs and I’m going to turn that around.”

Edwards: “ We are gaining jobs every year right now. The key is education and training.”

Abraham: “We’ve got to incentivise her to come have a business, build that business and then she becomes an employer. I would welcome a young person like that to come back in this state.”

The candidates: Ralph Abraham (left), Eddie Rispone (center), and John Bel Edwards (right).
Photo Credits: Brianne Hendricks

Death Penalty

Rispone: “My Christian faith says that I am pro-life so I’m against the capital punishment. I just can’t do that because of my Christian faith. I’m not afraid to say that.”

Edwards: “I took an oath to make sure that I would faithfully execute the laws of the state of Louisiana. One of those laws happens to be capital punishment. You don’t get to pick and choose.”

Abraham: “I’m the only candidate up here that supports the death penalty. And I would add child molesters to that list. Under my administration, if you’re a violent criminal, you’re going to serve every second of your sentence. As far as those that are on death row, I would allow those executions to go forward.”

Fixing Louisiana Roads

Rispone: “We have to do something different, and one of those things is take in the tax dollars that we told the citizens is for the gas tax, and we’re spending it on salaries and benefits. We need to stop that. We need to look at our Department of Transportation and make sure we’re spending our money wisely there and go forward with that.”

Edwards: “We have a back log of $14 billion. We do not have the resources that we need to tackle it, but we have been aggressive and creative in the way that we are funding infrastructure in the state of Louisiana. I’ve delivered over $2 billion in projects, roads, bridges and ports. In
this year I signed in the law of $700 million investment in transportation infrastructure that will take place next week.”

Abraham: “We have to reform the Department of Transportation from the top down. The administrative cost of the transportation trust fund needs to go before the legislature so that there can be some oversight. Right now, the DOT treats it like a piggy bank.”

Supporting early childhood education

Rispone: “We need to continue to fund this. We don’t have a choice. We need to help prepare them for kindergarten. West Feliciana did this and was successful with this, so we know it works. Let’s fix what we have.”

Edwards: “As I’ve said many times over the last year, early childhood education will be number one priority for additional education funding in my second term. We actually made a down payment on that this year, there is $20 million more invested in early childhood education this year than last year.”

Abraham: “We have to improve access. This administration hasn’t put any money into it until this year because it’s an election year. We have got to have access. We need to have those opportunities, we need to have accountability, we need to find the funding, which we will.”

Quotes provided by: Kyasia Hunt, Marina Prestenbach, Heidi Thevis, Spencer Urquhart, Louis Prejean and Aaron Gonsulin.

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