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Questioning the Vision

“I hear nothing from the governor’s office on where he wants to take this state,” Senator Conrad Appel of Metairie complains. “Where is the guiding light? Where is the direction that this state is going in these big policy areas that have long-term implications?”

Appel’s criticism is perhaps understandable, since he was one of Governor Bobby Jindal’s legislative lieutenants, spearheading education reforms in 2012.

I asked Governor John Bel Edwards to respond.

“You know, I spent two years running for governor, putting forth a vision that garnered 56% of the vote,” Edwards said, with a grin. “The vision hasn’t changed, but there are many policy-related issues that are obviously going to be on the back burner until we can deal with the present crisis.”

The governor says he’s got a strategy, which includes the Tax Reform Task Force.

“The task force was created as a result of negotiations between the Legislature and myself,” Edwards says. “But I’m not going to get ahead of them and tell you what I expect them to do, because then it makes it my plan as opposed to theirs.”

Isn’t that part of Appel’s criticism?

“There is only so much political capital at any one time that can be expended, and I am trying to be as judicious as possible,” the governor replies.

And, he says he is trying to let lawmakers learn truth for themselves.

“You let the legislature go through the budget exercise. And they are seeing what a shortfall looks like – without other revenue opportunities in the current regular session. And so, when you start trying to build support for success, that is an integral component.”

Perhaps that’s starting to work, for Appel did say something else:

“We need the governor to present a strategy, because we’re not going to do it on our own here in the Legislature.”