Louisiana Gov. Edwards calls for unity

March 15, 2016

By Elizabeth Crisp and Tyler Bridges, The Advocate

Gov. John Bel Edwards has set out on an ambitious plan for the three-month legislative session that started this week.Website Insert Choose Only One copy

Among the priorities he outlined during his State of the State address on Monday: He wants to pump more money into transportation projects like passenger trains and bridges, get Medicaid expansion off the ground without lawmakers throwing up major hurdles, bolster school autonomy, raise the minimum wage and pass a measure to require equal pay for women.

But perhaps the biggest test Edwards faces heading into his first regular legislative session: Whether he’s able to unify a legislative body that has shown itself to be increasingly vulnerable to divisive partisanship and under the threat of splintering under the weight of yet another looming budget crisis.

Edwards, a Democrat who took office Jan. 11, expressed optimism that he can work with the GOP-controlled Legislature and prevent the state from falling into partisan gridlock that has mired the federal government.

Louisiana is, after all, different, Edwards said.

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