Gov. John Bel Edwards talks successes, challenges after 1 year in office

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BATON ROUGE (WGNO) – “Louisiana is on the path to a brighter future.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards promised to put the state first when he took his oath of office one year ago. At a press conference today, he says he has kept that promise.

One of the changes Edwards says he is most proud of is one of the first changes he made when he took office. On his first full day as governor, he signed an executive order expanding Medicaid coverage in the state.

“And since coverage began six months ago more than 370,00 working poor people in Louisiana have health coverage that did not have it before,” Edwards said. “Most of them had never had it before.”

The historic floods near Baton Rouge and in Acadiana were just one of the many obstacles the governor has faced in his first year.

He also entered office facing a budget hole of almost a billion dollars – and a $2 billion budget deficit for the next year.

He said at the time he took office, “we were just beginning to realize the extent of our budget crisis.”

Edwards was also thrown into the national spotlight when he had to help the Baton Rouge community through Alton Sterling’s death and the subsequent protests, as well as the killing of three Baton Rouge area law enforcement officers.

Edwards said his priorities for this year are stabilizing the state budget and finding a way to fully fund the TOPS scholarship program for Louisiana students. The program has been gutted – and students are getting a lot less money for public colleges in Louisiana – because of budget restraints.