Gov. John Bel Edwards took his case for new taxes to the people this week on social media, in a column presented to the state's newspapers and on the stump with tours like the one he made in northeastern Louisiana Thursday.
"We're going to have to do something hard and unpopular," Edwards told a crowd of more than 100 at the Ruston Civic Center. "So I am asking you to be Louisianians first. It will be about shared sacrifice and finding common ground."
Edwards visited Ruston, the new Lincoln Parish Public Safety Center, Grambling State University and Louisiana Tech University during the day before delivering the keynote speech Thursday night at the Monroe Civic Center.
He was even able to squeeze in a fundraiser at trucking and energy magnate James Davison's Squire Creek Country Club in Choudrant.
He was flanked by allies like Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayor, who was a co-chairman of the governor's transition team, and higher education leaders like Louisiana Board of Regents member Bob Levy who fear further cuts would cripple colleges and universities.
"It's part of my job to travel the state and talk face to face with voters to explain what I believe we have to do," Edwards said. "I don't enjoy asking them to do something difficult, but I'm asking people to understand. We're in the worst financial shape in the history of our state.
"There's not another approach that will get us out of that. There's not another approach that will work."
While Edwards promised expense reductions where possible, he said there's "no way we can cut our way to prosperity," noting the state's estimated $750 million midyear deficit and a projected $1.9 billion deficit next year.
But Edwards is already getting pushback from some business advocacy groups like the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and elected leaders like state Treasurer John Kennedy, who is running for U.S. Senate.
He is also likely to meet resistance in the state House, where Republicans bucked his choice for speaker to elect one of their own in Rep. Taylor Barras of New Iberia.
"I don't think members are likely to cut $1.9 billion, but they're equally unlikely to raise $1.9 billion in new taxes," Barras said in a recent interview with Gannett Louisiana. "I think there are some of the governor's suggestions that can get traction, but it will be a balance."
Those suggestions will come Friday in the form of a call for a special session to address the deficit expected to begin on Valentine's Day.
"It's going to be broad," Edwards said of the call. "It's going to be everything on my list plus some additional items. It will be flexible enough for individuals to be able to forward some of their own solutions."