For the first time in memory, candidates seeking the governor’s office in Louisiana gathered Tuesday to discuss coastal issues as a sole topic.
The four contenders, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne, State Representative John Bel Edwards, and U.S. Senator David Vitter, met on the campus of Nicholls State University in Thibodaux.
Asked what the first actions they would take as governor regarding coastal issues, Dardenne responded that he would immediately seek the assistance of the federal delegation in Washington to seek out additional avenues for funding as well as reissue executive orders to insure that all components of the coastal master plan were being carried out to their capacity.
“I would also hold a summit of all stakeholders in the issue and use the weight of the governor’s office to make sure that the plan for restoration was being moved forward,” Dardenne said.
Edwards noted that the first thing that must occur is to have “honest budgeting” and to only spend money allocated for coastal projects on coastal issues.
“We have to stop taking money from one issue and giving it to another based on expediency,” he said. “We, as a state, must also make a more robust appeal to Congress for funding and prove that we are responsible in the spending of it.”
According to Vitter, his administration would take “three to five projects and put them on steroids. Accelerate them to completion or at least make significant progress on the ground with them. We can’t study any more. We also need to develop a strategy to increase funding as well as develop a campaign to significantly increase private matching funds for coastal projects.”
Angelle said that in addition to seeking more funding from federal sources, “we need to make it a felony for any misappropriation of coastal funding. This money being spent properly is critical to our future and our children’s future.”
He would also call a summit of all stakeholders to insure that “everyone was on the same page so the projects can move forward in a steady manner.”
Vitter also pledged to veto any bills that would raid coastal funds for placement in other areas.
“Coastal restoration is too important to play politics with. We need leadership to stay focused on this critical issue,” he said.
Angelle also pledged to keep coastal funds from being raided and noted that the soon to be enacted federal revenue sharing with Louisiana needs to remain the “law of the land.”
“We need to show the nation that this issue is worthy of national investment,” said Edwards. “We need to prove to people in other parts of America why they need to care about the coastal issues facing Louisiana and one way to begin is using the funding we now have in a timely and responsible way.”
The Republican candidates are U.S. Sen. David Vitter, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle. The Democrat is state Rep. John Bel Edwards.
The primary election is Oct. 24.
Posted on Fri, August 21, 2015
by Doug Cheramie, Contributing Writer