Making Our Vision for Louisiana a Reality
We ended the 2013 regular session today at 6 p.m. A lot of hard work led to a great sense of satisfaction.
The session is about much more than crafting legislation and hashing out a budget; it is where we represent the will of you, the people, and it is where we work to make our vision for the future of Louisiana a reality.
Did we succeed or did we fall short?
Yes we succeeded, and yes, we fell short.
Since we began in April, time and time again you’ve heard me argue the case for making smart investments in Louisiana. We did make significant strides, but we should have done more.
I sponsored or authored some 40 pieces of legislation this session. Each of them represents our vision for Louisiana -- our collective desire to make our great state even better. I relied on your advice and input throughout the process to guide my actions. I read your emails, talked with you on the phone, met with you for coffee, considered your survey responses, and heard you at many community meetings. Thank you.
We identified our vision for the future and set our priorities at the outset of this session to:
- create jobs and grow our economy
- support education
- strengthen healthcare
- make our streets safe
- ensure equal pay for equal work
We achieved many victories,
but I'm eager to move Louisiana further along.
Louisiana New Markets Jobs Act - Passed
- I sponsored HB 726 to foster job creation and retention by making private financing available to the best jobs engine in America- local small businesses.
- It passed, but the legislature only leveraged $55 million in Federal dollars instead of the $111 million that was available to us.
Equal Pay for Women - Passed
- I sponsored HCR 145 to create a study of equal pay issue in Louisiana and supported Sen. Murray’s Senate Bill 153 to demand equal pay for women.
- Both passed, but the legislature limited the bill to state employees rather than demanding equal pay for equal work in the private sector.
Coastal Restoration and Protection - Passed
- I sponsored HCR 42 to approve the 2013-2014 annual plan for integrated coastal protection and restoration.
- It passed, but we are projected to continue to lose 25 to 35 square miles of wetlands each year.
We should be proud of our progress.
We’ve won many battles, but we must continue to fight on --working toward our vision for the future of Louisiana. Now is not the time to rest on our laurels.
I’m pleased to report that other important legislation that I sponsored passed, including:
Public Education - Passed
- We were able to increase funding for public education in HB 1, the state's spending plan. It includes $69 million in new money for education, half of which will go to certified classroom teachers as a pay increase.
MediFund - Passed
- The Medifund is a smart investment in bioinnovation and biomedical research that will create jobs, grow the economy, and promote a knowledge-based economy for Louisiana.
Capital Outlay - Passed
- Our Capital Outlay program will strengthen our state’s infrastructure, enhance our District, and make numerous improvements in the Greater New Orleans Area, including after-school program and school buildings, museums and cultural institutions, health care centers, the Sports & Entertainment District, the French Quarter, and downtown.
New Orleans Riverfront Revitalization - Passed
- The legislation to accelerate New Orleans’ riverfront redevelopment will empower the Morial Convention Center to breathe new life into the area. The proposed improvements will include the development of a hotel, retail stores, and restaurants. The investment will create jobs, boost our local economy, and help cement New Orleans’ position as a top destination for tourists and conventions.
Health Care Stabilization - Passed
- The health care constitutional amendments will allow our state to access more federal funds, expanding access to Medicaid coverage for 400,000 Louisianans, including providing insurance for uninsured children and working parents. The legislation will also create 15,600 new jobs and $1.8 billion in additional economic activity. Both pieces of legislation are constitutional amendments that voters will be able to approve in the 2014 statewide election. Vote Yes to Health Care!
Preserving Hollywood South - Passed
- The amendments I offered to HB 696 will help preserve our film industry’s ranking as one of the top three in the country.
One step at a time,
celebrating each victory along the way -- that’s how we will make it down this long road to success. Together, we can do it!
Walter "Walt" J. Leger, III
State Representative, District 91
Speaker Pro Tempore of the Louisiana House of Representatives