NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Gov. John Bel Edwards is resolute in his opposition to the idea of possibly diverting some state hotel tax revenues from tourism to the troubled New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board. However, Edwards said he will meet with Mayor Latoya Cantrell this week to talk about the SWB and other matters.
“Because we have debt that we’re servicing at the Superdome and at the Convention Center, and we have plans to expand and renovate those facilities to make sure that they continue to draw tourists here for conventions, that we continue to have a competitive venue here to land bowl games and other events, to make sure that we can enter into, at the appropriate time, another long-term lease with the Saints,” Edwards said.
Edwards said he will work with the city in other ways as much as possible.
“But it is just not on the table to move revenue streams to support these state facilities away from those facilities, and in fact, I think in the long-term that would not be in the city’s best interest. I do recognize the challenges, however, with infrastructure. We have state challenges, as well, with respect to infrastructure,” Edwards said.
The S&WB is having cash flow problems. In August, the agency resumed collections efforts against delinquent customers.
Meanwhile, the governor has not given up on his push for a statewide minimum wage that exceeds the federal law. He said $7.25 is not a meaningful minimum wage in 2018.
“I believe that over a couple of years with a couple of step increases, we could get to $8.50 an hour. I think that we would lift families out of poverty. We would do a tremendous amount to buoy our economy here in Louisiana, and we have neighbors in Arkansas who are already at $8.50, and they voted to go to $11 over the next couple of years,” Edwards said.
Edwards said too many children are needlessly trapped in poverty because their parents do not earn enough money.
“This isn’t something new. I ran on this in 2015 and we needed it then. We need it even more so today,” he said.
So far, the Legislature has not gone along with the governor’s minimum wage hike proposals, and some business groups say a higher minimum wage will cost jobs.