Budget Surplus, Know Before Boating, Lighting Up Tourism, Saying Goodbye to André | LSWI |05/26/2023
Support for Louisiana, the state we're in is provided by. Every day I go to work for Entergy. I know customers. Are counting on me.
So Entergy is investing millions of dollars to keep the lights on and installing new technology to prevent outages before they happen. Together, together, together. We power life. Additional support provided by the Fred Bea and Ruth Ziegler Foundation and the Ziegler Art Museum located in Jennings City Hall.
The museum focuses on emerging Louisiana artists and is an historical and cultural center for Southwest Louisiana and the Foundation for Excellence in Louisiana Public Broadcasting. With support from viewers like you. And it's not flowing through the street, we'd like to use it for the streets. It's a rarity.
The state flush with cash. It's a it's creating a place that people want to be. Highlighting technology is transforming bridges. When you get out on the waterways, it's a lot different than driving a car. Tips for safe boating. Hi, everyone.
I'm crossing. Here. And I'm Andre Moreau. Schools in Bogalusa are switching to a four day school week.
They are? That's right. When school starts up again in August, the nearly 1500 students in that district will go to class Monday through Thursday. Now, city council members who approved the change say it was necessary after losing so many teachers following the pandemic. There's hope the new school week will entice more teachers to come to the city. Be assured, though, it's not like administrators are giving away a day of learning. The school day will last 53 minutes longer and the school year will start a little earlier and end a little later to make up for that shorter week.
And now to other news making headlines across the state. Lawmakers rejected a bill that would abolish the death penalty in Louisiana despite Governor John Bel Edwards request during his State of the State address. The bill was killed in a majority Republican legislative committee, 11 to 4 on Wednesday. Opponents of the bill argue that families the victims wouldn't receive justice if the penalty was abolished. While supporters argue that it's a waste of money and an unfair system, Louisiana's last execution was by lethal injection in 2010.
There are currently 60 people on death row without persecution dates. Louisiana is one of 27 states with corporal punishment. A bill that would ban gender affirming care for children died in a Republican controlled legislative committee after 3 hours of heated deliberation. The final vote that broke the tie came down to Republican State Senator Fred Mills, who said that he believed the decision to pursue gender affirming care is between the patient and the position.
The bill died 5 to 4 on Wednesday. Does Louisiana right now have essentially money flowing in the streets? There's so much extra money going around and the legislature is talking about a lot of it and what to do with it. Well, the man who really knows the answers to that. Jay Darden, commissioner administration here. Jay, great to see you.
And there's been a recent revenue estimate. So where does that stand? Well, it's not flowing through the streets, but we'd like to use it for the streets. Good. One of our big recommendations, of course, because we're going to we want to use this money as one time money not to build the budget. There are going to be some things that will be recurring expenses that the governor's proposed, like a teacher pay raise and like early childhood education, which is, we think, critical for the future.
But basically, we want to take what has been identified as recurring money and not simply grow the budget, but use it on one time expenses. And that's what I'm hoping. At the end of the day, that's what the legislature will agree to do. The part of the legislature kind of like said no to some of those notions.
And then PA came out with a commentary saying, Let's reset that, let's look at it, because especially early childhood, we're always talking about we must invest in that and to not it seems like a real wrong turn at a time when we have this unprecedented largesse. We ought to take some of that and invest in the things that people have been talking about for years, and that's early childhood education that the bill that came out from the House did not do, that. It sought to pay down additional payments on the unfunded accrued liability, which called the initial unfunded accrued liability. We're on a glide path to get that paid off by 2029 anyway. Anyway, no matter what, there'll be a re amortization next year that's going to lower the payments no matter what.
So I think he is. Normally you'd say let's pay down debt, it's a good thing. But in your in your home, if you've got a home mortgage and the roof is leaking and you've got some extra money, you don't make an extra mortgage payment, you fix the roof.
And that's kind of what our attitude is right now. We have some things that need to be fixed in Louisiana our roads, our highways, our bridges, investing in education, taking care of some deferred maintenance needs on college campuses, making investments in early childhood and higher ed to an extent that has not been done before. We all talk about education being the key to the future, which I wholeheartedly agree with.
Let's invest. This is a one time opportunity, he said over and over. It is to make this happen, to put that investment in. What's your gut thought about what will ultimately be voted in? Well, I think at the end of the day, we're going to reach an agreement. The bill is left the House.
It's pending in the Senate right now. There are multiple bills that bear on this issue because we have to spend the money that's excess in the current year before June 30th. We have to spend the additional money we've recognized for next year's budget that begins July one. And we have a capital outlay bill that's going to spend some cash, too.
So you've got multiple bills at play. That's why I say it's yeah, it's really a lot of moving parts come in the numbers again if you can. What we have, what's available and when things have to be spent. You know, it's hard to pinpoint a number because budget's already been spent on some things.
There are other things that are pending. But just as an example, on the Revenue Estimating conference it recently met, we increased the forecast in both the current year and next year by multiple hundreds of millions of dollars that have never seen the table before. That No, we've we've gone from, as you know, the beginning of the Edwards days to a $2 billion deficit, and now the sudden we have a significant surplus.
But it's because we budgeted conservatively. We've had more money come in than estimated and the economy has been doing very well. Unemployment's at an all time low.
And the COVID money, of course, and the COVID money help. But it's not nothing. It's gone. No longer dependent upon that to be spent to fund the budget. So it helped the economy click along during the time of COVID. But we don't have any federal money on which we're relying for recurring expenses anymore.
So one thing that happens when you have a lot of money, all of a sudden a lot of people, they seem to get more greedy and want their hands in it. How can you get people to step back and say, let's look for the good of everyone? Well, there are a lot more hands out because people know that there is money there and the legislature with the governors will have to prioritize what's most important for the people of the state and enact a budget that satisfies those those critical needs. And that's what the debates about differing legislators have, differing views of what the priorities are. So there's some questions about, obviously, how to spend the money. And there's this overarching, overarching question of the expenditure or limit and should we exceed the expenditure limit, which was enacted many, many years ago when no one envisioned a surplus like this.
So is there a worry about that or maybe not? There's a worry about it because we're coming down to the last days of the session and you've you've had the House going one direction in the Senate, clearly saying it wants to go in a different direction together, meaning there has to be an agreement at the end. And I think it'll it'll take us probably to the very end ending closing days of the session to get it resolved. But I hope and I think that we will have a resolution that's going to be satisfactory and the legislature is going to agree to, and we're not going to have to come back in a special session, which would be disastrous. It's important for Louisiana. Jay, thanks so much for being here.
Thank you for all your work and help. We will miss you. Thank you. How to make Downtown Baton Rouge More of a destination is always under discussion, especially since COVID. As it turns out, though, the capital city may already have a major asset right under our noses.
The downtown I-10 bridge could join an expanding list of other bridges capitalizing on the LED lighting craze. We know football stadiums have LEDs, but the real story is decking out bridges, as you'll see, the ladylike shows in stadiums like Alabama's are impressive but pale in comparison to those on bridges and other structures. In 2017, Montreal's Jacques Cartier Bridge became the world's first connected bridge with a lighting system, said to move to Montreal's own dynamic beat. Intelligent programing connects the bridge to real time social media data for weather traffic, news and social media trends. The nearly $40 million system is getting rave reviews.
Now think of Louisiana and the mini bridges we have. Early this month, former D.O.T. Secretary Sean Wilson, who's running for governor, announced the double span Crescent City Connection in downtown New Orleans would get an LED makeover. But if New Orleans, then why not Baton Rouge? And.
This is like my favorite thing to talk about. Because you're right, I've done a lot of events over the course of my career and then over about the last 20 years, I've been working on transportation projects. So for the seeing the two come together finally are just incredible. And then the other aspect that I think is just incredible is the economic driver that something like this can be. It's a it's creating a place that people want to be.
They're drawn to it not just for events, you know, day in and day out. They're drawn to cities that are investing in this. The fascinating thing, that's a bridge that has always been there in no time.
Soon will be there's a new bridge that goes up. So why not? If you're stuck in traffic, why not sit up and enjoy the lights? All right. And what better stay. You know, talk about this before to be looking at something like this than Louisiana, where there's bridges everywhere because we live with water more than than most states do. So and we're finally building larger river crossings. Baton Rouge will get a new one. Lake Charles will get a new bridge.
Shreveport was an early investor in bridge lighting with the Texas Street bridge over the Red River, trimmed in neon. That lighting eventually went dark, though, and in the past few years, the bridge got a benefactor and a whole new LED look. It was unveiled last year. So a philanthropist in the community, Dr. George Bartowski, said, Enough, I want to bring back the light and the light and the economic zeal of the riverfront. We put up the first million dollars.
Two and a half million was the final price for the job. And the bridge is now named the Borkowski Bridge of Lights. As for New Orleans, Wilson says Dot will partner with New Orleans and company tourism leaders on the bridge lighting project. We're certainly committed to either financing it or building a coalition of businesses and community partners to make sure that we get there, because we do think it's a great opportunity.
And we've seen success in other places. It's brilliant. Shreveport has a great success story. Everyone should be listening to this because you're what you're doing is a template for what Baton Rouge wants to do to LED light, the I-10, Mississippi River Bridge.
Well, good luck. It's going to look great. You'll have to thank you since bands of it, right.
It's a spectacular it's a truly spectacular bridge. And I think it would just add a lot of great value to the beautiful skyline that we already have. And certainly when the time is right, we'll be supportive of Baton Rouge doing it as well, because you know that I-10 bridge is a great entry way into the state of Louisiana and over to New Orleans. Eventually. The cost to light the double span bridge is about 16 to $17 million.
Capital city tourism leaders feel hopeful that Baton Rouge could be in line for an led spectacle on the prominent Mississippi River Bridge downtown. Certainly the lighting of such an iconic big bridge over the Mississippi River would be one of those things that would surprise and delight a visitor arriving or staying in Baton Rouge. The fact that we to be as committed in the New Orleans Bridge is actually a really good thing for us. So that means they will have worked out probably all of those technical difficulties and studies that need to be done and really understand the process of how to make it happen in New Orleans.
So potentially, once we identify a funding source, that'll it'll make it a smoother process. Now, I talked again with Commissioner Jay Darden after he had a late afternoon meeting with. And learned they've already fronted the full $16 million cost to New Orleans for the bridge project.
But as we heard, they're working with tourism and the NFL to recoup some of that. The Superdome is host of the 2025 Super Bowl. And in 2021, Louisiana saw 26 lives taken as a number of crashes dramatically increased.
Former LSU cheerleader Chico Garcia surviving, thrown from a boat as a drunk driver smashed into a pier. But he was left paralyzed. And that was 12 years ago.
It's no surprise in almost every deadly case, alcohol abuse is a factor. And with this being safe Boating League, State, Wildlife and Fisheries is sounding the alarm to stay sober and use immense caution when on the water. Memorial Day weekend is almost synonymous with the water, but boating seasons led to serious accidents for the past three years. When you get out on the waterways, it's a lot different than driving a car.
Number one, you don't have brakes, so you definitely have to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Corporal Daniel Bernardo is an agent for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division. His job is to patrol the waterways and keep boaters safe. He says most accidents on the water happen as a result of alcohol.
When you go out on the water, it's always it's always a good idea to have a sober driver. A lot of people come out on the waterways and, you know, have a good time, have some have some drinks, but always have a sober driver. In 2020, boating accidents in Louisiana increased by 18% from the year prior. The U.S. Coast Guard report documented 124 accidents and 24 fatalities in 2021. And the number of accidents decreased to 111.
But the number of deaths rose to 27. And last year that number increased again to 29 deaths this year. If you're planning on getting on the water, make sure you follow these quick tips. First and foremost, don't get in the boat with someone who doesn't have a license.
This is the best way to ensure safe travels. Second, wear a life jacket. Wear your life jacket.
I know it gets hot out here on the waterways, but, you know, we'd rather see somebody wear their life jacket than after fishing out of the water without it on. Third, know your surroundings. And lastly, don't drink and operate a boat. Most fatalities are alcohol related, just like Corporal Varnado says.
It can happen at any spot, at any time. If you were born after January 1st, 1984, and want to operate a boat, it's mandatory. You are tested following a rigorous national safety course.
The State Department of Wildlife and Fisheries offers those courses free of charge. Well, it's time to acknowledge something very difficult. Andre, your time with us is coming to an end. Yeah, it is. My career TV winds down tonight with my retirement MLP.
Now, this spring, Louisiana's Association of Broadcasters honored me with the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award. We submitted a video for consideration of that. So here it is. It's a look at my life in front of the cameras.
I'm Andre Morrow and I am the youngest of ten children from a big, deep rooted Louisiana family. I knew that I wanted to be in television, had a tape that was good enough to send out. I got a job offer from Alexandria and went to work there in the spring of 1984. I was there 80 days and then was offered a job in Lafayette at KCC and went there. So 84, 85 was there. I was there.
Two more years and 87 went to Baton Rouge to work for AP TV as the head sports guy and was there until 1994. You're watching WAC image for I got offered a job in Columbus, Ohio as a sports anchor. But two months into that job and Andre Morrow, a bigger job as the live at five guy, and that changed the course of my entire career. These two buildings are headquarters for Baywatch Nights and Baywatch production. The search is on tonight for a Florida woman lost at sea.
This could be disastrous. I'll turn around. Can you see? Oh, look at that. Andre, how did this all start? Senior tackle. Well, it all started, we believe, in the late thirties, and nobody can pinpoint it exactly.
But it's it's a tradition that really goes on at many schools throughout the country. They tell me this guy is going to be in Sydney in the Olympics, not like in your mid twenties or late twenties are now 16, only 16 years old. But you're the state champion, right? Yes. And a hundred butterfly.
Are you nervous right now? No, I'm not nervous. I am. Okay. You ready to start? Oh, let's go.
Why don't you? Oh, we cannot let him do this. What? Well, it looks. Like Andre won. Wow.
That's a new world record, isn't it? I had the pleasure of working with Andre for several years at the CMH NBC affiliate in Columbus, Ohio. He did a great job. Everybody loved working with him. Studio anchor Baseball Strike into day 20. Now Field anchor.
This is a game that fans are certainly looking forward to. Sportscaster. Sports reporter. And Daredevil.
Well, it was such a beautiful day. We thought we'd try skydiving once again. Wish me luck. The experience doing that live at five show was probably the best of my career. But what's interesting is the elements of being able to do that helped me get other job later on, like at Cal in Los Angeles. I am here and I'm here along with a diver.
You can hear him breathing. Jane, the man who police say stabbed his. Girlfriend to death and then led officers on a. Long, bizarre chase through Los Angeles is pleading not guilty.
Andre Moore I was down on the ground. Andre. Yeah, Larry, that flare up we're seeing is on very near Francis Kato Road.
We've had a problem. Cars come to a stop now and don't know exactly. What it is.
What's the first thing we want to do? We've stopped. Well, I said make sure your vehicle is completely off the roadway. You wanna make sure you activate your hazard light.
Okay. Get that was there for three and a half years and then went to San Diego in 2003. I'm mercilessly at CBS eight in San Diego.
Andre was my first co-anchor. Here. And I think one of the highlights of both of our careers was sitting right in the studio anchoring wall to wall coverage.
Breaking news, four days of the devastating wildfires that raced through our city. And we won an Emmy for that coverage, bringing crucial information to our. Viewers and then returned in 2008 to WAFB in Baton Rouge. This is nine News at ten. And then following that, I came to help. Hi, everyone, and happy New Year.
I'm Andre Moore. When a journalist of Andre's caliber comes home, I think you get a unique blend of professionalism at a very high level and also commitment to community. You can hear all over Grand Isle the sounds of machinery trying to rebuild America's. Wetland Foundation saw that when they gave him its highest honor for his coverage of Louisiana's coastal crisis, the mayor of Baton Rouge asked him to chair the Baton Rouge Bicentennial, and Andre worked with me to create a very special event for Baton Rouge. It's on New Year's Eve celebration, Code Red Stick revelry.
We're underway now in downtown Baton Rouge. In its 10th year. He's done things like this everywhere he's worked.
But when you get to do it in your hometown, in the state you love, I think it's very, very special. It's one heck of a career. Andre, thank you. That's been great. It has been. And in the true spirit of journalism, I'm going to ask you some questions.
All right. All right. Ready? I'm ready. So your path to the anchor desk, It was not a typical one. You kind of stumbled into this industry. Yeah, well, you know, I studied journalism at LSU, but it was advertising. And then when I got out of school, I worked for a newspaper that some of my family owned and helped start a newspaper, then went to work for too long.
And after that as a fundraiser, traveling all over the country for a big campaign to raise a lot of money. So I did that. And then I had a tape made. Charles Zewe from Channel Six in New Orleans was great enough to have me do a tape after a newscast one night.
And then one day Alexandria called and offered me a job. So I left. I was there 80 days, and then I got picked up by Lafayette, moved on. And as you heard in the story, that was that was it. I was 27 when I started, which is a pretty old age to start in TV. Yeah, I guess so.
And back then, I mean, the industry has changed a lot, so it usually took a lot to end up on the anchor desk. They wanted the best. They weren't putting bombs or just anybody, I guess. Well, they were certainly putting somebody who had never done it though.
So yeah. But obviously you were a natural. And this was the this was 1984. Whenever you started. 84. Yeah. Yeah.
They only wanted the best of the best on the desk. Yeah. And so you've seen the industry go through a lot of changes. I mean what's the biggest change I guess, that you've noticed. Well, the biggest changes happening now, it has for the past five, ten years with social media and that presence and people getting their news from Twitter and other things that aren't necessarily news, and also the opinionated news that we strive not to do.
And that's not the way we deliver the news enveloping the PBS. And I love the long form interviews that we do because you hear everything that people have to say. It's not like a soundbite clip together, right? Which is kind of where we come from. I mean, before coming to a place like this, you had to put together a story that's like a minute long and sometimes even 50 seconds. So you don't really get everything.
And if you have, like, you know, it's like the cops and robbers, the shooting on here, this street and that street, we don't talk about the individual things like that, but we do look at the reason, right? The big picture that, yeah, that affects everyone in Louisiana. All right. So I want to ask you this question. What is your favorite memory working here at LBB? I know there are so many to choose from. Well, it really is the fact that we covered the state and that we look at stories that are so important, like the hurricane damage stories, Lake Charles, Grand Isle, and keeping up with that and really telling that story and of course the coastal issues. So I like the fact that we again tell a long form and we're not opinionated.
We give the news, you make up your mind, which I think that. Well, we're definitely going to miss you. And I'm not the only person that wants to say goodbye. There are a couple other people that want to, you know, wish you well. I want to thank you personally and professionally for all that you've done for our TV.
You have been a wonderful, wonderful member of our team. Congrats. And every time, buddy, I hope you enjoy Landry. What the heck? But a good ride. But what am I supposed to label my fader now? But, Andre, for how long of a good retirement, buddy? Thank you for all your work, hard work here in your career.
And on to the next thing. Congratulations, Andre, on your retirement. Best of luck on your future endeavors. And hey, congrats on winning the Lab Lifetime Achievement award. What a way to go out. See a.
Happy retirement. Andre, we wish you good luck. Happy retirement. Andre from Friends of Alfie being like, Hi, Andre.
Enjoy your retirement there. Jay Congratulations, fellow retiree Well-deserved. Now break out those sandals and head for the beach. Hey, Andre, Happy retirement. And you know, as Abe Lemon says, when you retire, you never get a day off. That is so nice with Rex, their former great photographer.
You think he was drinking a mimosa. Orange. Juice, like he was getting ready to go to the beach. That was so fun.
But we're not done yet. I think more people. Wanted to say good bye. Come on. We want to get everybody out here as we sign off.
Yes, we do. We do. We do. Come and join us on the set. Everybody in there. Come. Come up here and come on. Don't be bashful because we will run out of time.
And at the CASA segment, we don't. Everybody, come on. All right, so these are all the people that make the state wear impact.
Well, not everybody, but. A good. Many people behind the scenes that you never get to see that make this possible. And Sally is out there behind the camera. So we don't see her right now, but she's going to come out here right now.
She runs the show, Sally, if you get out here, but we should go ahead and sign off, right? I guess we should. Yeah. Everyone, that is our show for this week. Remember, you can watch any Esther by segment or broadcast and you'll find it all on our YouTube page and Louisiana Public Broadcasting videos.
And remember, if you're on the go, you can get our help PBS app and just keep it handy. You can watch LP news and public affairs shows as well as other Louisiana programs you've come to enjoy over the years. And please like us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And I can do it like this. For everyone here at Louisiana Public Broadcasting, I'm Andre Moore. And I'm kerosene sear.
Until next time, That's the state we're in. Every day I go to work for Entergy. I know customers. Are counting on me. So Entergy is investing millions of dollars to keep the lights on and installing new technology to prevent outages before they happen.
Together, together. Together. We power life. Additional support provided by the Fred Bea and Ruth B Ziegler Foundation and the Zeigler Art Museum, located in Jennings City Hall.
The museum focuses on emerging Louisiana artists and is an historical and cultural center for Southwest Louisiana and the Foundation for Excellence in Louisiana Public Broadcasting. With support from viewers like you.