Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards and Republican Congressman Ralph Abraham squared off at a gubernatorial forum Thursday held by the non-partisan Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana.
Invited, but not in attendance was Republican businessman Eddie Rispone, who’s also running for governor.
“Well Governor, it looks like it’s just you and me,” quipped Abraham.
Covering topics from infrastructure to health care to taxes, Congressman Abraham and Governor Edwards set themselves up as candidates who see the state headed in two different directions.
Edwards argued under his leadership, the state’s economy is better than it’s ever been and touted bringing an end to Louisiana’s budget deficits.
“The question for the state is, ‘are you better off than you were four years ago?’” the Governor asked.
The way Abraham sees it, government has grown on the backs of taxpayers under Edwards’ administration. Abraham criticized the Governor’s willingness to increase state sales tax to fix a budget shortfall.
“My opponent brags about a surplus of tax dollars, which is a surplus of somebody else’s money," said Abraham.
Edwards noted any sales tax increase required approval from a GOP-controlled Legislature.
“Yes," he said, "we raised revenue. We also made sure we had cuts and savings for a balanced approach.”
Edwards says one way the state is saving money is through Medicaid expansion, bringing federal dollars to Louisiana.
But Abraham, a physician, says he’s concerned the program will become too expensive.
“If we don’t get this Medicaid expansion under control," said Abraham, "it is going to bankrupt the state. That’s just the truth.”
Edwards then criticized Abraham’s support for repealing the Affordable Care Act.
“The would be horrible for the state of Louisiana.”
The election for governor will be held October 12th, with a runoff in November if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote.