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Dec 08, 2006
Governor Blanco opens Special Session to invest in families, communities, and businesses

BATON ROUGE - December 8, 2006 - Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco today kicked off a ten day Special Session of the Legislature designed to invest in Louisiana's families, communities, and businesses. 
 "Today we have an opportunity to make serious investments in our recovery," Governor Blanco said in her opening remarks to legislators.  "We have the unprecedented good fortune to bring much needed relief to our families.  Thank you for giving up a few days of your holiday season to come here to help our people.  We're here to do the people's business.  Let's not pass up this unprecedented opportunity to bring real relief to our citizens when they need it most."
Governor Blanco called the special session before the end of the year so Louisiana's families can enter the New Year with tax cuts that will apply to the 2006 tax year, so that the state can refund Louisiana Citizens insurance assessments and avert the next insurance assessment in January, and to improve Louisiana's standing in a competitive economic development recruitment effort during a critical time of decision.
 "We have $1.6 billion dollars in new revenue for the current fiscal year that economists forecast will continue into the coming years," she told legislators.  "Our economic outlook is a tremendous testament to our confidence in ourselves.  We are moving forward with our recovery, and we can not let go of the reins."

Governor Blanco was joined by teachers, first responders, and small business owners as she delivered her remarks.
Governor's Legislative Package
Taking another step toward long-term insurance reform: Louisiana faces an insurance crisis highlighted by rising rates in homeowner's insurance. 
   LA Citizens Rebate: Governor Blanco called the special session to provide an immediate refund to every homeowner across the state who paid the one-time LA Citizens insurance assessment.  This refund check provides immediate relief to consumers.  Governor Blanco continues to work with consumer interest groups, insurance companies, re-insurers, and Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon to address the state's need for comprehensive insurance reform.
   Catastrophic Insurance Fund: Governor Blanco is setting the stage to provide added relief to homeowners by establishing a catastrophic state fund as a back-stop.  An initial appropriation of $100 million will jump start this fund and is a solid long-term investment in our future insurability.
Making an immediate investment in Louisiana's people and Louisiana's families:
   Governor Blanco proposes $300 million in tax cuts to help Louisiana families and businesses, including:
    o $50 per child income tax credit
    o Mortgage interest paid tax credit
    o Charitable contributions tax credit
    o Casualty losses tax credit
    o Medical/dental expenses tax credit
    o Phase down of the sales tax on business utilities for companies large and small 
   Investing in our people by providing an
    o Additional $2,100 a year for public teachers to make Louisiana's teacher pay competitive with the Southern Regional Education Board average
    o Additional faculty pay raises
    o Additional $750 for school support personnel
    o Additional $125 a month for police, fire, and sheriff's deputies
    o Additional $1,500 a year for state workers
    o Average 20 percent increase for corrections, probation, and parole officers
Providing $300 million in an economic development fund to attract a durable manufacturing facility.
Providing Health Care Reform dollars to ensure our citizens have access to affordable care.
Ensuring strong communication in times of emergency.
  Governor Blanco will do this by investing $20 million in interoperability for state and local law enforcement.
Governor Blanco plans to strategically invest the one time fiscal year 05-06 surplus in accordance with the constitution.  Her plan is to invest 
    $400 million for roads
   $200 million to pay down the Unfunded Accrued Liability debt that hovers over our retirement system.   This fiscally responsible investment will save an estimated $1 billion dollars in savings over time.
   $100 million to help local governments meet their FEMA payments for debris removal.  The federal government refuses to continue its 100 percent reimbursement policy after December 31st.
   Balance on infrastructure investments