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Louisiana Stories 2
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LOUISIANA STORIES
Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco invited citizens who would benefit from her legislative priorities from communities across Louisiana to attend her opening address to the Louisiana Legislature during the start of the 2006 December Special Session. Here are their Louisiana Stories:



"A raise in supplemental pay would mean the world to all of us. Firefighters all over Louisiana are working multiple jobs and losing quality time with our families."
-Steve Wilkinson
Steve Wilkinson
Firefighter - Shreveport

Steve Wilkinson's shift at work became anything but normal December 4 when Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco stopped by to announce her plan to provide a raise in supplemental pay to police, firefighters and sheriff's deputies throughout the state.  Steve welcomed Gov. Blanco to Shreveport's Central Fire Station and told the Governor what her proposed pay increase would mean to his family.

Shreveport firefighters work a 24 hours on and 24 hours off in a five shift rotation. Most of them, like Steve, work multiple jobs to help make ends meet. Steve works two side jobs, often working one from 6 a.m. until 3 p.m., when his shift begins at the fire station. The extra $125/month in supplemental pay proposed by Gov. Blanco would make a world of difference to Steve, his wife Paula and the couple's two sons by covering pre-school costs or other expenses.

The Wilkinsons would save $100 a year through Gov. Blanco's proposed $50 per child income tax credit. The Governor is also calling for tax credits for medical/dental expenses, mortgage interest paid, charitable contributions and casualty losses.


 




"It is tough to raise a child as a single parent on a teacher's salary in Louisiana. The last pay raise Governor Blanco gave us made a real difference to teachers and this one will as well."
- Keshia Broussard Rideaux

Keshia Broussard Rideaux
Teacher - Lake Charles

Keshia Broussard Rideaux entered her fifth year of teaching this fall as a biology teacher at Lake Charles Boston High School. She began her teaching career in Texas, but moved home to Louisiana shortly after.

Keshia became a single mother when her husband passed away in December 2005 and now raises her two year old son while working full time. Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco is proposing an additional $2,100 a year, plus benefits, for Louisiana's public teachers and pay increases for school support workers. Keisha received the previous pay increase for teachers provided by Gov. Blanco and this new increase would help cover child care costs and ensure that Keisha is able to work full time. 

Keshia would also benefit from Gov. Blanco's proposed child income tax credit and additional tax credits for medical/dental expenses.




"We have suffered huge losses and any tax relief would make a real difference for us."
- Cristy McNabb

Cristy McNabb & Jennifer Webber
Small Business Owners - New Orleans & Baton Rouge


Cristy McNabb and her business partner Jennifer Webber opened Style Lab, a men's clothing store, in New Orleans in 2004. The new business began to grow, but suffered huge losses due to looting as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ripped across South Louisiana in 2005. Despite being robbed twice and facing the challenges of recovering from the worst disaster in U.S. history, they were determined to see their business recover.

Style Lab slowly rebounded from the storm and opened a second store, in Baton Rouge, in July 2006.  The small business now employs five people and continues its recovery.

Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco's special session legislative agenda includes a phase down of the sales tax businesses pay on utilities. This tax relief benefits businesses of all sizes in every part of Louisiana, from small businesses like Style Lab to major corporations. Style Lab expects to pay over $12,000 in utility costs before taxes this year to operate her two shops. Money saved from tax relief will be used by Style Lab to cover both debt created by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina and payroll for their employees. The Governor's business tax relief plan combined with other grants and programs for businesses that Gov. Blanco created will help Style Lab survive and grow.





"Law enforcement officials deserve a pay increase. We give so much of ourselves to serve others."
-David Hebert

David Hebert
Sheriff's Deputy - Cameron Parish

A true hero of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Cameron Parish Deputy David Hebert recently moved back to Johnson Bayou, in Cameron Parish, with his family. Like many Louisiana families, the Heberts are working harder than ever before to make ends meet.

David was one of the first rescuers to reach St. Bernard Parish during Hurricane Katrina and spent several days conducting rescue missions before heading back to Cameron Parish to open a shelter for evacuees. He and another deputy were the last two people to leave Holly Beach the morning Hurricane Rita arrived in Southwest Louisiana and David was one of the first people back in Cameron Parish after the storm passed.

Through the legislative special session, Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco is calling for an increase in state supplemental pay for first responders like David who keep our communities safe. She believes these brave men and women have earned this increase and deserve a fair wage. The Blanco Plan includes an increase of $125/month for police, firefighters and sheriff's deputies across Louisiana. The Governor is also fighting for an average 20% pay increase for corrections, probation and parole officers. 

The Heberts would also benefit from Gov. Blanco's tax credits for Louisiana's families. The Governor's proposed $50 per child income tax credit would result in a $150 credit for the Hebert's three children for the 2006 tax year. Gov. Blanco also proposes credits for medical/dental expenses, mortgage interest paid, charitable contributions and casualty losses that could create additional savings for the Heberts.


 

"My daughter will be heading to college soon and Governor Blanco's plan to raise supplemental pay would help me save money and spend quality time with my kids as they grow up. Law enforcement salaries need to be competitive, just like teacher pay, because we are losing good candidates to other areas."
- Mark Huggins
Mark Huggins
Police Detective - Monroe
 

A ten year veteran of the Monroe Police Department, detective Mark Huggins is a second generation law enforcement officer who works multiple jobs in his off-duty time. Mark hates having to be away from his wife Kim and two children while working long hours and he remembers his father having to do the same.

According to Mark, the average starting salary for a Monroe police officer is about $2,000/month. Monroe police officers have not seen an increase in state supplemental pay since the 1990s and Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco's plan will provide an extra $125 a month to police, firefighters and sheriff's deputies through state supplemental pay. Gov. Blanco believes Louisiana must keep first responder pay competitive with other states so that the state does not lose qualified law enforcement personnel.

The Governor is also pushing for several tax credits for Louisiana's families, including a $50 per child income tax credit that would provide an additional $100 in tax credits for the Huggins family.




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