Governor Edwards Delivers End of Year Address

Governor John Bel Edwards held his end of the year press conference today highlighting accomplishments of 2022.  ABC 31 News’ Joel Massey has more.

Governor John Bel Edwards touted some of Louisiana’s successes one of which was record unemployment numbers which sits at 2.9 percent down from 6.9 percent two years ago.

“So this is a massive decline in just a couple of years.  Every job lost during the pandemic has been recaptured and then some.  We’ve added 228,000 jobs and we have more Louisianans working today than ever before at more than 2,042,000 employed Louisianans.”

When Edwards took office there was about a $2 billion deficit in the state’s budget now there is a $2 billion surplus.

“That is a huge step forward for our state.  We did that by growing and diversifying the economy and making a lot of strategic decisions.”

Edwards talks about the things Louisiana was able to fund with the surplus.

“This year we passed a budget that makes historic investments in education at every level.  Unprecedented amounts of funding for our infrastructure to include broadband just to name a few things.  Higher education for example received the largest state funding increase ever at almost 85 million dollars in state general fund.”

Because of inflation many of the projects the state has approved, such as DOTD road projects, have come back well over the amount estimated Edwards says that’s where the surplus has come in handy.

“So in order to move forward with the work that the legislature has agreed to fund we’re going to need to move some of these one time dollars to existing projects which if we didn’t have those one time dollars we would be cutting back on the scope of work that we’re going to do.”

I spoke with one supporter who thinks Edwards did a great job as governor.

Pineville resident Michael Harris said, “He did leave the state in a much better state than what it was when he came into office which is a pretty good legacy to have if you’re going to be a politician, to leave a surplus versus a deficit means more money on the table to create more jobs, create more public facilities, more money in people’s pockets, more opportunity so if you ask me I think John Bel did a pretty good job while he was in office.”

The governor also said that he doesn’t think that the state income tax will be abolished next year in the Legislature.