The Louisiana Legislature convened March 14 for the 2022 Regular Session, and hundred bills have been filed and are under review by Legislators. See our report starting on page 8.
The Governor’s proposed budget includes: $31.7 million for faculty pay raises in higher education; $10.5 million for the MJ Foster Promise Program Fund; $97.2 million for higher education, which includes $5 million for Title IX offices across the state, $15 million increase
in GO Grants, and $25 million into the Higher Education Initiatives fund.
In his opening remarks Gov. Edwards said the state is in a much better place then when he took office six years ago. “At my first state of the state, I had just inherited a billion dollar budget deficit to close out that fiscal year, and a two-billion-dollar deficit for the year that started July 1, 2016. Today, as I stand here before you, we have hundreds of millions in surplus, even more in current year excess, and billions in federal funding through the American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.”
The proposed budget also includes $43.4 million for early childhood education, with more than $17 million for the LA-4 Early Childhood program; $148.4 million for teacher and support staff pay raises, which is at least a $1,500 raise for teachers and $750 for support staff; a $12 per diem increase for intermediate care facilities for people living with intellectual disabilities; and more than $1.1 billion in funding for critical infrastructure, such as $500 million for a new Mississippi River Bridge in Baton Rouge, an additional $100 million for the bridge in Lake Charles, and $500 million for water and sewer improvements statewide.
“This is a balanced budget that is responsible, transformational, and continues my administration’s practice of only using one-time dollars for one-time expenses. It’s a promise I made six years ago and one that I have not deviated from. We are not going back to the days of deficits, fiscal cliffs and one-time dollars for recurring expenditures. And we will continue to be focused on empowering families and communities for the future,” Gov. Edwards said.
“My legislative package includes a number of bills focused on hurricane deductibles, claim transparency, enforcing insurance fraud laws against bad actors, revamping the adjuster registry so that policyholders can verify their adjusters, and stopping mortgage companies from withholding insurance money from homeowners without good reason.
He noted his Climate Initiatives Task Force had set a goal of reaching net zero by 2050. “This taskforce, which includes scientists, academics, industry leaders and environmentalists, has adopted a Statewide Climate Action Plan,” the Gov. said. “What makes Louisiana’s plan special, and the most attainable in my opinion, is that instead of working against oil and gas companies,
we are working with them.”
He made an appeal to raise the minimum wage and reduce the gender pay gap. Gov. Edwards began his address by saying, “All too often, our world is filled with unrest, and right now our prayers are especially with the people of Ukraine as they defend their homes, their families, and their freedom. We are joined today by Eddy Hayes who is the Honorary Consul of Ukraine. He represents the economic and cultural interests of the country here in Louisiana. I asked him to be here today in hopes that he will relay our unified support to his colleagues in Ukraine.”