Holding Town Hall Meetings
Beginning this week, I look forward to sitting down with you around the state to share about the progress we have made, but more importantly, to hear the concerns facing your community firsthand. We have accomplished a lot in a short time, but still have much work to do when it comes to making sure that our students have access to a quality education, our roads are safe to travel, citizens have access to quality and affordable health care and the state is investing your money wisely.
A recent letter to the Baton Rouge Advocate is reminiscent of what I have heard from a number of you over the past week encouraging us to continue moving forward with Louisiana's new era of fiscal common sense. The letter states, "Thank you, Gov. Bobby Jindal for taking the first steps in creating a budget for the entire state, for removing the projects that should be under community, philanthropy, church, local government, self-help and/or any concerned citizen."
As I said last week, there will always be more worthy causes than there will be state funding. But it is our job to ensure tax dollars are wisely spent and invested in state priorities that will further the creation of a New Louisiana that encourages business growth and job creation so our kids do not have to leave home to pursue their dreams.
The Monroe News-Star pointed out that the $16.14 million I vetoed last week in the state budget is "no chump change, especially if it represents money that was taken from the pockets of Louisiana taxpayers." They continued by saying our "intention was to protect the taxpayer," and that "the governor's actions were… consistent with the governor's promises to the people of Louisiana. He promised to be a good steward of public funds."
I look forward to visiting with you in the coming weeks. On Tuesday we begin our town hall meetings in Northwest Louisiana. I hope to see you there.
Tuesday, July 21
12:15pm – Homer (Claiborne Parish), City Hall
2:00pm – Springhill (Webster Parish), Community Activity Center
3:30pm – Vivian (Caddo Parish), Vivian Elementary and Middle School
As evidenced by the appearance of a strong storm in the Gulf of Mexico this week, this year's hurricane season is upon us, and it is critical that every Louisiana family have a gameplan if faced with an approaching storm.
A few weeks ago I told you about our "Get a Gameplan" hurricane preparedness campaign, featuring LSU football coach Les Miles and New Orleans-based rock band Better Than Ezra. Last week we unveiled the public service announcements that you will soon see on television. You can get a sneak peek at the spots here.
I encourage you all once again to visit the state's new preparedness website, www.GetaGameplan.org, and utilize the tips and information found there to ensure that your family is prepared this hurricane season.
Too often, when a family requires human or social services, they are required to go to several locations to fill out multiple forms, creating layers of unnecessary red tape that hinder their ability to receive the help they need. Last week I traveled to New Orleans to sign legislation that created Neighborhood Place, taking a great step forward to cutting that red tape.
Senate Bill 701 creates Neighborhood Place, which will bring the Departments of Social Services, Education, Health and Hospitals, the Louisiana Workforce Commission and Office of Juvenile Justice together at a single location, creating a much more efficient delivery of services. As reported in the Times-Picayune, the first facility will open at the Mahalia Jackson School in Central City New Orleans and will offer prenatal care, nutrition programs and job training. Community leaders in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, West Feliciana and Sabine Parishes have also expressed interest in opening a facility.
Welcoming Our Troops Home
I would also like to extend a special thank you to the 175 members of the Louisiana National Guard's 769th Engineer Battalion that returned home to Louisiana last week after serving oversees protecting our freedom. I was pleased to meet the Battalion at the Baton Rouge Airport upon their arrival, and seeing the faces of the troops as they were reunited with their families and friends is certainly an experience I will never forget.
As this article in the Baton Rouge Advocate illustrates, these men and women are true heroes, regardless of your stance on the war, and deserve our highest honor and respect.
Unfortunately we were reminded once again today of the dangers that our military faces every day in doing their job when a B-52, based at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, crashed off the coast of Guam this morning. Our hearts and prayers go out to those families who lost a loved one in the accident, as well as the hope that those that continue to remain missing are found safe soon.