BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – In his final State of the State, Gov. John Bel Edwards urged legislators to push Louisiana forward. He is using his last push as the leader of the state to advance a Democratic agenda and attempt to raise the state up from the bottom of many lists.
Topping the list of his priorities is raising teacher pay once again to bring Louisiana closer to the southern regional average. He wants a total of $3,000 dollars for teachers to be added to their salaries to deal with the teacher shortage and keep those that are already in the state.
He also is supporting raising the minimum wage, which Louisiana has not done since the federal government did in 2009. Louisiana does not have a state minimum wage and uses the federal amount of $7.25.
“I find it embarrassing and frankly immoral we have not raised our minimum wage. Even more so now because of the impact of inflation,” Edwards said.
The bill has been brought up many times before and did not come close to the governor’s desk. With it being his final year some are hopeful it’ll have a chance.
“Given the fact that the governor is not running for re-election that we put aside politics and we do what’s best for the people of Louisiana,” State Sen. Gary Carter said.
While there are a number of controversial bills on the docket this year, the governor framed part of his speech on if Louisiana is going to be “pro-life” there have to be investments into people’s futures. For him, this includes paid family leave and for the first time, he is calling on the legislature to repeal the death penalty.
“We have to ask ourselves, what does that mean? Do the policies that we enact support the position we’ve taken? Do we truly support families? What does it mean when we let mothers and fathers work full time without being able to afford to house and feed their children?” Edwards questioned.
Across the aisle, some Republicans are nervous about hitting the spending cap that is in the state constitution. House Republican Caucus Chairman Rep. Miguez said he wants the governor to focus on more ways to keep people from leaving the state. He wants to invest in the state – but not overspend taxpayer dollars as there is a potential fiscal cliff on the horizon in just a couple of years.
“We need to be very wary of overspending those funds this year because we know there is a shortfall coming, we need to prepare for a rainy day,” Miguez said.
With it being a fiscal year there will be a number of tax reform proposals as well as controversial social bills, ways to tackle the insurance crisis and more. There are over 800 bills to be debated this year all while passing a balanced budget.
Click here to read the governor’s full speech to the legislature.