BATON ROUGE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — Governor John Bel Edwards kicked off the regular legislative session by reflecting on the accomplishments of his career during his eight years in office.

He mentioned erasing a multibillion-dollar budget deficit, expanding medicaid and more.

He also talked about his priorities for this legislative session.

During his address Edwards said a teacher pay raise will make Louisiana more competitive with neighboring states amid a national teacher shortage. He requested to give teachers a $3,000 pay raise as well as $1,500 for support workers.

“We’ve been taking small bites of the apple for the past five years. We are in a fierce competition with neighboring states to keep the teachers we have,” Gov. John Bel Edwards.

During this session, Edwards also called for a minimum wage increase to $10.00 per hour statewide.

“ It is embarrassing and frankly immoral that we have not raised our minimum wage – even more so now with inflation. In the meantime, I will use my executive power to raise the minimum pay for state employees.

Governor Edwards expressed his support for House Bill 346 by Rep. Delisha Boyd. He urged lawmakers to add rape and incest exceptions to the State’s strict abortion ban.

“I simply do not know how we as a state can tell a young girl or any victim of rape or incest that she must be forced by law to carry her rapist’s baby to term, regardless of the impact. After all, rape and incest exceptions protect crime victims,” said Edwards.

And perhaps, one of the Governor’s strongest call yet in the legislature was to ask lawmakers to end the death penalty in Louisiana.

“It is wholly inconsistent with Louisiana’s pro-life values as it quite literally promotes a culture of death. It is difficult to administer one execution in 20 years. It is extremely expensive,” explained Edwards.

And as for supporting Louisiana families, Edwards said he supports paid family and medical leave legislation authored by Representatives Aimee Freeman and Sam Jenkins. He also supports equal pay.

“Equal pay is extremely popular with voters. So, if you won’t support it because it is the right thing to do, support it because it is what your voters want you to do,” Edwards said.

The Legislative Session will end Thursday, June 8th.

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