Louisiana Gov. Edwards talks education, veteran-owned businesses in NWLA

Louisiana governor touts teacher pay raise, Veterans First initiative

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards was in the northern part of his state Tuesday touting what he considers some of the highlights of the most recent legislative session and to see their impact firsthand.

He spent more than an hour with ArkLaTex teachers and school staffers at Southwood High School in Shreveport.

The roundtable was one of several being held throughout the state on the heels of the teacher pay raise lawmakers approved during the most recent legislative session.

“They let me know how important that is because it’s important to them too that the districts have the ability to attract and retain the very best teachers for our students," the governor said.

“They also told me what I already believed to be the case that while the pay goes to adults, the investment is really in the children.”

The conversation inside the room also turned to what still needs to be done in terms of pay raises, discipline in the classroom and more.

“From industrial tax exemption to support personnel pay to support personnel leaves not being the same as they are for teachers, there was a wide range and he was willing to listen to and embrace each of those issues," said Jackie Lansdale, president of the union Red River United.

“The opportunity I had to visit with people here today in Northwest Louisiana, I think, is critically important for me to better understand," said Edwards, who’s seeking re-election in an election to be held Oct. 12. Challenging him are U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone, both Republicans.

After the governor’s stop at Southwood High, he jumped across Red River to Haughton, where he visited Heirloom Farms and talked about his Veterans First business initiative also passed in the Legislature.

Businesses like Heirloom Farms soon will be able to show off their veteran-owned status with a new sticker and will be part of a database to hopefully help bring in more customers.

“A lot of times, people have real difficulty transitioning from military to civilian life," the governor explained. “So anything that gives them a little bit of a boost can make a tremendous difference.

"Even if someone only increases by a few percent, that can make all the difference in the world as to whether they are going to be successful.”

The business initiative for veterans will kick off after the 4th of July. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is slated to be the face of the campaign.

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