With the 2019 legislative session wrapped up and a campaign for re-election on the horizon, Governor John Bel Edwards took stock of the successes and failures of his key initiatives.
At the top of the list was education funding. The governor and Legislature secured a $1,000 pay raise for Louisiana teachers.
"We also have the $39 million increase in the per-pupil allocation, so that we're giving the school districts more money to support our children," added Governor Edwards at a press conference following the end of session.
That increase will amount to $54 more for each student in Louisiana’s public schools.
Barry Erwin, President of Council for a Better Louisiana, says Edwards successfully fought off attempts to cut that funding.
"He had some opposition, particularly in the House, to doing that, but he stood strong," said Erwin.
Edwards also touted expansion of the foster care program to include children up to the age of 21 and the creation of a statewide database of veteran-owned businesses to support their economic development.
But for the fourth year in a row, the governor’s pusheses for a minimum wage increase and equal pay failed.
The two policies have been on Edwards’ agenda since he ran for governor in 2015. If re-elected, he says he’ll keep them there.
"$7.25 is an inadequate wage for an hour’s worth of work. Period. Therefore, we're going to come back and we're going to keep fighting for it," said Edwards.
Pearson Cross, Associate Professor of Political Science at UL Lafayette, says that fight probably won’t get any easier.
"I think the Louisiana Legislature is going to be likely to be more conservative in the future and is likely to still continue to think that raising the minimum wage would depress the economy as a whole," explained Cross.
Still, both Cross and Erwin agree that, despite some losses, the democratic governor’s wins should help his reelection chances this fall.