BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Gov. John Bel Edwards discussed the 2023 state budget and the legislative session at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 11.
A bill that would have added rape and incest exceptions to the state’s abortion law failed by a vote of 10-5 on Wednesday, May 11. Edwards said he was disappointed in the vote in a statement.
Edwards began by thanking healthcare workers across the state and said there are less than 100 COVID-19 patients in the hospital.
“But as the country moves out of COVID-19 public health emergency, all states and certainly that includes Louisiana, are resuming normal Medicaid operations,” he said.
He reminded Louisiana Medicaid members to make sure their contact information is up to date so they can know their eligibility status. Residents can update their information online, call the number on the back of the ID card or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The presumption is if you can’t make contact with somebody that they are ineligible,” he said.
Before he began speaking about the budget, Edwards said that Senate Labor Committee reported favorably to Senate Bill 149 by Senator Gary Carter to establish a state minimum wage.
“It’s something that we have fought for every year of our governorship. And I truly believe it’s the right thing to do. It’s the moral thing to do. You know, $7 in the quarter is inadequate. It hasn’t been changed since 2009,” he said.
“And many, many other states now have their own state minimum wage that is much higher than $7 in the quarter so it is exactly the right thing to do. And I know it has a ways to go before it reaches my desk. But I am encouraged. And more and more people across Louisiana have obviously made their voices heard on this issue. And an overwhelming majority of Louisianans agree that it is past time to raise the minimum wage,” Edwards said.
In his budget submission, Edwards asked the legislature for a $3,000 pay raise for teachers.
“Now to be clear, 2000 of that, almost $200 million was included in our budget presentation. And then the third $1,000 increment, we believe will be available after RNC meets. We also believe that it’s important to invest in early childhood education. And so we had a net additional investment of $51 million for early childhood education and understanding that with the withdrawal of the federal stimulus, early childhood funding, we really needed and that particular appropriation, a total of about $98 million to stay even with the number of children who are going to have seats in these high-quality early childhood education settings,” he said.
As for higher education, Edwards said he is working to make sure Louisiana’s workforce has what it needs to get high-demand jobs.
“Unfortunately, as the bill came out of the House last week, the funding for the teacher pay wage was removed. The $51 million for early childhood was removed the $57 million for higher-ed was removed,” he said. “Certainly not reflective of what the overwhelming majority of people of Louisiana believe ought to be our priorities right now, especially given our obvious ability to make these investments. And so we’re going to be working with the Senate to try to restore these very critical areas of funding.”
Edwards said he was optimistic as he always is that it will happen.
“We’re going to continue to work with the House too because any changes made in the budget by the Senate will ultimately have to be agreed to by the House if they’re going to become law,” he said.