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Published by: WVUE

Louisiana State Police are preparing to send the largest contingent yet of troopers to New Orleans for Mardi Gras festivities, and one lawmaker details a plan he thinks will provide the funds to keep the troopers in the city year-round.

State Rep. Walt Leger of New Orleans has an idea, and it involves Harrah's Casino. Leger says the City of New Orleans gets $3.6 million a year from a contract it holds with the Gaming Control Board, yet it actually spends $8 million on services around Harrah's.

I would argue that we could allocate a level more closely related to what the city is actually expending,” Leger said.

According to Leger, the state gets $75 million a year in fees from Harrah's. If even a portion of that was sent to New Orleans instead, it would more than pay for additional state troopers to work in the city. “Ultimately the state has got to make investments in public safety to ensure there's an ability to generate revenue moving forward in one of our most important industries - the hospitality industry,” Leger said.

Click here for a video report and the full article. 

 

State Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, sponsored a bill last year that would have merged Traffic Court and Municipal Court and eliminated two of their eight judgeships. 

An article by The Advocate by Gordon Russell highlights the need for reform.

Click here to read the article. 

Imagine purchasing your dream car, with all the bells and whistles, but never changing the oil. Before you knew it, the engine would burn up, and the car would be rendered useless. That's essentially what is threatening our newly built and renovated public school facilities, which have been brought up to national standards with $2 billion in FEMA and insurance proceeds. The looming problem is that the Orleans Parish School Board does not have, nor has it ever had, dedicated revenue to maintain its buildings. That is why our schools were in such deplorable condition prior to Hurricane Katrina and the levee breaches.

I authored Act 543 to give New Orleanians the opportunity to vote on a proposition to re-direct an existing bond millage to the preservation and maintenance of our public school buildings. It is NOT a new tax. The purpose of this legislation is to make sure funds are dedicated to maintaining our school facilities for generations without raising taxes. This is a commonsense approach to meeting an obligation to our children, who we would be failing if we allowed our public schools to fall back into disrepair.

The funding can only be used for maintenance and a number of oversight mechanisms have been built into Act 543. Each school will have to create a maintenance plan, and the funds could only be spent in accordance with these plans. Additionally, new facilities offices will be created to inspect and monitor buildings to ensure that they are being maintained. If a school is not compliant, the facilities office will step in, and the school's ability to access maintenance funds may be suspended or terminated.

Whether they attend charter, OPSB or Recovery School District operated schools, we owe it to our children to support this proposition. The money will be dedicated to school campuses, and whichever entity is governing a school will administer the funds. If governance changes, so too would administration of the money. Our community may have an ongoing discussion about how our schools are governed. We may disagree about policies and politics. But we all can agree to rally behind our students. That is why I encourage you to vote "yes" on the school maintenance proposition on the Dec. 6 ballot.

Walter "Walt" J. Leger III

State representative, District 91

Speaker Pro Tempore, Louisiana House of Representatives

New Orleans

 
 
 

By Richard Rainey, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune 

The nonprofit transit advocacy group Ride New Orleans patted state Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, on the back for his work promoting public transportation, the website Gambit has reported.

He received Ride's "Transit Champion of the Year" award. Harrah's Casino won the business-equivalent accolade.

Ride New Orleans has pushed better public transportation across the city, especially after a study they conducted revealed that the bus and streetcar routes established by the Regional Transit Authority cater less to poorer minority neighborhoods than to more affluent communities.

You can read the story here.

 

 

 

What do your elected officials and state leaders believe is in our country's energy future—and what's in store for Louisiana? How will their choices affect the Gulf region's importance as an importer and exporter of oil around the globe—and the United States' position in the international community? And how will the region balance economic development with environmental impacts of robust oil industry? The Atlantic posed these questions and more to state leaders ahead of the 2014 midterm elections -- and Walt was one of them.

 

Rep. Leger, along with fellow co-chair of the Louisiana Legislative Caucus Rep. Simone Champagne, was honored for his work to protect and restore our state’s fragile coast. The Coastal Champion award was presented by the Arlene and Joeseph Meraux Charitable Foundation during a ribbon cutting ceremony for the nonprofit’s new river observation center in St. Bernard Parish. 

“Saving our coast is one of my top priorities and, as a St. Bernard Parish native, one that is close to my heart,” said Leger. “Coastal erosion affects us all- from Shreveport to New Orleans. Our working coast is the backbone of our state’s economy, and our wetland loss could cost the nation $36.6 billion from lost public use value over the next 50 years.”

Leger sponsored the legislation that approved the 2013-2014 annual plan for integrated coastal protection and restoration. This Plan reflects the priorities of the 2012 Coastal Master Plan, and it includes more construction for restoration than we have ever seen before. Approximately 117 projects represent a $767 million investment in our coast for FY 2014 alone.

Published in The Advocate on July 24, 2014

We would like to thank state Rep. Walt Leger III for his leadership during the legislative session on behalf of Louisiana’s children, ages birth through 4 years.

Much has been written about the bills involving Common Core, but little has been said about the legislation that passed involving early childhood education. These new statutes are a continuation of the implementation of the Early Childhood Education Act (Act 3) of the 2012 session that mandated an overhaul of how our state governs, judges and ultimately funds our child care and pre-K programs.

Given that over 70 percent of young children in Louisiana have both parents in the workforce and that high-quality child care costs almost as much as a public college tuition, and given that early brain development establishes the foundation for all future learning, effective implementation of Act 3 is essential. Children who begin school behind typically remain behind. If our children are going to be successful in school, then their early learning experiences must be of high quality.

We appreciate Leger’s work to ensure not only the passage of the early childhood bills, but his work to ensure that these bills incorporated effective policies on behalf of our youngest citizens.

Melanie Bronfin
executive director, Policy Institute for Children
New Orleans

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 19, 2014

REP. WALT LEGER RELEASES STATEMENT ON GOV. JINDAL’S MISGUIDED ATTEMPT TO ABANDON COMMON CORE

Statement by Walter "Walt" J. Leger, III
State Representative, District 91
Speaker Pro Tempore, Louisiana House of Representatives

"Louisiana students deserve the same opportunities as children across the United States, and for too long we have let our education standards lag behind. That is why Governor Jindal's attempts to abandon Common Core are all the more reprehensible.

The public will remember that, before he opposed it, Gov. Jindal supported Common Core in 2010 and signed it into law with Act 275 in 2012. Louisiana joined with 43 other states in setting common expectations in English language arts and mathematics. Unfortunately, as the governor’s political ambitions increased, he began catering to extremists who oppose the standards.

The governor is irresponsibly perpetuating a campaign of misinformation surrounding Common Core, including the myth that the federal government would be taking over our schools. The facts are that Common Core is a state-led effort, and the federal government does not govern it. The Louisiana Department of Education, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), and local school districts will continue to drive the implementation of Common Core.

In order to keep moving forward, a group of pragmatic Democrats and Republicans joined with me to author HB 953. The bill passed with more than two-thirds of the legislature supporting it, but the governor vetoed it on Friday. HB 953 was a compromise that would have allowed Louisiana to continue implementing the Common Core expectations and tests, while giving students and teachers two extra years to prepare before accountability measures went into effect.

As a state that consistently ranks 48th or 49th in education, we took action to ensure that Louisiana’s students would be better prepared to compete nationally. There is no doubt that Gov. Jindal’s plan would set us back, and our children would be the ones to suffer most. Districts, schools, teachers, and students have been working to meet the new standards for several years, and the governor is pulling the rug out from under them just weeks before classes are scheduled to begin. It is unethical to denigrate their immense efforts at this point in the implementation process.

Governor Jindal’s plan to abandon Common Core is a clear example of executive overreach. And while I was disappointed to hear his announcement, I take solace in the fact that the law is on our side. It empowers BESE and the Louisiana Department of Education to set standards and mandates that “[b]eginning with the 2014-2015 school year, standards-based assessments shall be based on nationally recognized content standards.”

I commend Superintendent White and the Louisiana Department of Education and Chas Roemer and BESE for maintaining their commitment to Common Core and improving public education in our state.”

Published by The Advocate -- May 10, 2014

In 2010, Gov. Bobby Jindal and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education committed to the idea that Louisiana’s children deserve to be taught to expectations as high as any in our country. They joined with 43 other states in setting common minimum expectations in reading, writing and mathematics for public school children.

They then joined with 16 other states to create a test that would allow Louisiana to see how well it stacks up against the top states in the nation in achieving these new expectations.

In 2012, the Legislature joined Gov. Jindal and BESE by passing HB707, calling for nationally competitive standards and tests.

As often happens with ambitious projects, realities set in along the way. Publishers were slow to adjust textbooks. Teachers in some parishes received training earlier and more often than in others.

Politics also set in. Gov. Jindal recently joined with those on the extreme left and the extreme right in opposing common expectations and competitive tests. While he has offered no alternative plans, he has called on the Legislature to address unspecified “concerns.”

In response, a group of pragmatic Democrats and Republicans have joined with me to author HB953, a plan to immediately implement the expectations and tests, while making sure we do things right in the process.

Doing things right means understanding how well our students are performing today before we set targets to which our schools and teachers will be accountable in the future. That is why HB953 requires two years of student results on new tests before establishing performance expectations to which we will hold schools and teachers.

Over the course of 2015 and 2016, until two years of “baseline” results are established, the state will not require the use of test data in evaluating teachers and administrators. School and district letter-grade ratings will be awarded on a curved basis, so we will not see an unfair drop in school ratings.

Furthermore, the lowest-rated schools will gain academic support plans to help them meet the new bar.

Starting in 2016, the state will gradually raise the bar for schools each year for 10 years. By 2025, students in an A-rated school in Louisiana will have an average performance worthy of the top school systems in America.

Gov. Jindal has asked the Legislature to act. Legislators from both sides of the aisle support HB953 because it achieves both high expectations for students and patient implementation in our schools.

I urge the governor, BESE and all of my colleagues in the Legislature to support this plan and to stay the course on the historic effort to raise the bar for Louisiana’s children.

Walter J. Leger III

speaker pro tempore Louisiana House of Representatives

New Orleans