BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Governor John Bel Edwards said he’ll sign a state of emergency for Louisiana later Wednesday during his end-of-the-year speech on Dec. 18.
Edwards began his update saying he toured some of the impacted areas, calling them “catastrophic.” Despite the confirmed death in Vernon Parish, the governor said the state is fortunate that more lives were not lost during the severe weather.
Rapides Parish is the only parish to declare a local state of emergency following the storms. The parish requested assistance to repair damaged roofs that were in the impacted area.
Other remarks in his speech included budget stability, with Edwards saying the state is “operating in a position of strength.”
Edwards said investing in education, particularly early childhood education, will be a top priority in his second term.
“Education cures a lot of ills,” he said. “While we made good progress this year, it was the first teacher pay raise in 10 years. It was the first net increase in state general funding increase for higher education in ten years and we still have one of the lowest expenditures per student in higher education in the nation.”
The governor also praised the legislature for injecting $700 million into road and bridge projects, BP Oil Spill settlement money that would otherwise have gone to the state’s rainy day fund and certain retirement programs.
Flood risk reduction projects will be moving forward, according to Edwards, in the new year.
Edwards will also push again to raise the $7.25 minimum wage in 2020 and work to close Louisiana’s gender pay gap.
Following his remarks, Edwards hosted his 45th monthly statewide call-in radio show.