It’s time for the Louisiana governor’s candidates to get specific

By Robert Mann

They may be sparring at forums almost every week, but three of the four contenders for Louisiana governor must believe that mystery is an attractive quality in a candidate. Explore their websites and you’ll discover pretty pictures and flattering biographies, but few policy specifics.

Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, for example, shares his list of “25 Books to Best Understand Louisiana,” but little about health care and education. I couldn’t locate one detailed policy prescription on his site.

Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle’s campaign site peddles coffee mugs and a $21.95 apron that declares, “I’m With the Cajun.” It does not, however, have specific policy proposals, other than links to news stories about his vague plans. Angelle’s site does feature a new spot that announces his support for “equal pay” for women. Asked for details, however, Angelle’s campaign manager told me those wouldn’t come until his boss is governor.

Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, provides more detail than Angelle or Dardenne on his website, but only about education, health care and the military. Regarding education, you’ll learn that Edwards will end “double digit annual tuition increases while prioritizing more state support for higher education to make the state a true partner with parents and students to keep cost of higher education low while consistently moving toward the southern average in total funding.”

Where will Edwards find the money for this? He gives no details on his website. Perhaps, instead of a page on the military, something about the state’s enormous budget woes would be more useful.

So far, U.S. Sen. David Vitter is the only candidate to publish a lengthy plan for how he would govern. It’s 36 pages long and gives voters useful insights into the policies that would guide a Vitter administration. For example, page seven – “Stabilizing the Budget Through Spending & Tax Reform” – is far more detailed on this issue than anything presented by the other candidates.

Dardenne and Angelle may have policy plans – and they’ve discussed them at the various forums – but they haven’t published them, at least, on their websites. Aren’t those the logical places for interested voters to search for candidates’ policy prescriptions?

Edwards offers more details than Angelle and Dardenne but still falls short of what we should expect from a major gubernatorial candidate. Even Vitter’s so-called “blueprint,” while more satisfying than anything published by his opponents, is not a true, detailed policy blueprint.

Political scientists might counter that this policy ambiguity doesn’t matter much. People choose candidates using other factors, including party affiliation, personality, slogans and name recognition. Perhaps that’s true. Voters rarely vote on policies alone.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the news media and the public shouldn’t pin down the candidates now – only four short months from the Oct. 24 election – and force them to cough up more details about how they would govern. (Which is exactly what moderator Clancy DuBos did skillfully at a recent forum in Westwego.)

All the candidates (except for Edwards, who serves in the House) escaped the 2015 legislative session without disclosing how they would have voted on most major bills that lawmakers debated.

Continue reading on NOLA.com at this link.

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6 Responses to It’s time for the Louisiana governor’s candidates to get specific

  1. Stephen Winham says:

    It is sad that none of these guys will go out on a limb and offer an actual concrete plan/solution for our fiscal bankruptcy.

    Jim Fannin, in a 2 minute interview on WRKF this morning offered a more realistic and simple suggestion than any of these guys – re-implement the income tax parts of Stelly.

    It is past time we started demanding our elected officials (and candidates) offer the kind of solutions that are possible, practical, and uncomplicated. Instead, we get platitudes. And, if history is any predictor, the special sessions promised by all candidates for governor, will likely result in a “plan” so convoluted as to be incomprehensible. Some, including me, believe such proposals are not pragmatism (which could be honorable), but intentional obfuscation intended to keep everybody in the dark..

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  2. Matthew Walton says:

    Instead of re-implementing the income tax parts of Stelly, why not remove the sales tax exemptions? Taxing production instead of consumption is punitive of success. Taxing consumption is a more equitable way to ensure that everyone who consumes resources pays for those resources. There is much more variation in income than resource consumption. Why should I pay for a greater share of the public resources than others who may actually consume more of the resource than I do? Taxation based on income should be a non-starter. The only equitable tax is a sales tax.

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    • Stephen Winham says:

      Many make that argument, though few as articulately as you. Answer: Because sales taxes on food and other necessities fall more heavily on the poor who have little or, in some cases, no discretionary income. The Stelly income tax increases were relatively modest but, in the alternative, there are other options for raising revenue that do not disproportionately affect poor people, including the working poor who can’t make enough money, at minimum wage, to afford the basic necessities we all take for granted.

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      • Fredster says:

        Stephen, you do know who this is in the above comment, right? Head over to La. Voice and do some searching and you’ll find Mr. Walton’s comments there.

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    • Fredster says:

      The only equitable tax is a sales tax.

      Nope it’s not. It is terribly regressive.

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  3. Matthew Walton says:

    Of course he knows who I am, I post under my real name. I respect Mr. Winham’s views and opinions, and I comment under the assumption that he respects mine. We disagree philosophically, as intelligent people may. I respect Professor Mann and Mr. Aswell, though I rarely agree with them, for putting their ideas in public for reasoned debate. I respect commenters like Mr. Winham, who make reasoned arguments. Who I don’t respect are anonymous keyboard commandos who snip and snipe, without the intestinal fortitude to own the words they spew.

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