2012 Legislative Session begins

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Gov. Bobby Jindal says Louisiana has a "moral imperative" to improve education, explaining to lawmakers they need to revamp the state's system of paying teachers and expand a voucher program statewide.

Jindal spoke to a joint session of the House and Senate on Monday as they opened their three-month regular session.

Jindal told lawmakers, "The moral imperative to improve education goes to the heart of the American dream."

Rep. Pat Smith, a Democrat from Baton Rouge, says the governor is just in it for his own gain. "The numbers just don't add up.

"Governor Jindal,  I'm here to tell you we will not let you rob our children of the future they deserve so you can score political points with the national Republican extremists," said Smith.

The governor wants lawmakers to move taxpayer money that would pay for private school tuition and to change the system of pay and job protections for teachers. He has been saying to anyone who will listen that the overhaul of public education his top priority for the legislative session.

He said his education plans were "not about the next poll, the next election. It's about the next generation."

"The most interesting thing that came across my mind is education as number one." said Baton Rouge freshman lawmaker Alfred Williams, "But when I look at the commercials that he has been running, there are no minorities in that commercial."

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