News > Governor's Column
Dec 29, 2006
A column by Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
So much has happened during this busy year, and stepping back to take stock makes me realize just how much progress we have made on behalf of our people. Now as 2006 comes to a close, I can proudly say our hard work is paying off.
We are bringing business, major investments and thousands of jobs to Louisiana. Since the storms my aggressive economic development agenda has landed more than $6 billion in new business investment and some 7,000 new permanent jobs. This prosperity is touching every corner of our state, and we've got our sights set on even more opportunities in 2007.
My targeted reforms are transforming Louisiana's education system, and the results speak for themselves. Louisiana is now a national leader in providing pre-K for every child. We rank first in education standards and accountability, and first for teacher quality. And we're working to keep qualified teachers in Louisiana classrooms. We delivered a pay increase for certified teachers and support workers and we won't stop until Louisiana salaries compete with every other state.
We have made landmark progress in protecting our coast. I demanded Louisiana's fair share of offshore drilling revenue by successfully suing the federal government, blocking offshore lease sales. After years of pursuing our OCS revenue sharing plan in Congress, this victory pushed us over the finish line. And you helped - you recognized the importance of investing in our future, and together we passed constitutional amendments that take politics out of levee board appointments and dedicate OCS funds to protecting our coast.
This year we continued to build a healthier Louisiana. Nine out of every ten children now have health insurance, and we are on target to achieve my goal of insuring each and every Louisiana child, moving toward statewide health coverage for all. With our efforts to keep our children healthy, Louisiana catapulted from 49th to 32nd in the nation for childhood immunizations.
In December, legislators answered my call to provide immediate relief from skyrocketing insurance costs to home and business owners. Louisiana will give $292 million in relief this year alone to our people hit with post-storm Louisiana Citizen Insurance assessments. If you paid this assessment, you are eligible for state tax refunds now.
Louisiana played hardball to win resources we need for our unprecedented recovery. I demanded and secured an additional $4.2 billion in federal dollars for Louisiana, and when our Road Home program was given the green light in July, we launched the largest housing rebuilding program in U.S. history.
We've helped communities rebuild by delivering more than $2 billion in recovery aid, and provided a $150 million safety net for future disasters to help keep our people safe.
We concluded a year of major progress, but we have much work to do, and I know a bright future lies ahead of us. I will continue to do whatever it takes to move Louisiana forward.
Oh, and one more thing... How 'bout them Saints?
Click here to view a summary of Governor Blanco's 2006 highlights. >>