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    The Rotary Club of Ville Platte today (Tuesday) heard from State Representative Bernard LeBas.  He gave a review of the recent two sessions of the state legislature in Baton Rouge. A special session was called immediately after the regular session after lawmakers could not agree on a new fiscal year budget.

   LeBas commented that the budget that was approved in the special session was brought up during the final days of the regular session however some lawmakers were initially against it. He said 80 million dollars were put back in the highway account after being transferred by the previous administration to fund the state police.

   LeBas said our infrastructure needs improvements. “We have bad roads and we don’t have the money to fix our roads”, he said.  A gasoline tax is expected to be on the election day ballot to help with roads and infrastructure.

   LeBas is blaming “partisan politics” for the legislature not approving a “blue ribbon” committee recommendation to help stabilize the state’s budget.

   He said healthcare and education take a big share of the state budget every year. The popular TOPS scholarship program was fully funded this year by the legislature.

    Chicot State Park was brought up during his comments. “Chicot State Park is our biggest park and the most visited park in the state. We are fighting to keep it open,” said LeBas. Cuts in state funding meant maintenance personnel were let go. “Our Lt. Governor, Billy Nungesser, is 100 percent behind our efforts in keeping Chicot Park open and a draw for tourists.”

   LeBas said a new constitutional convention may be needed to help remove the many tax exemptions and tax rebates that many big businesses and corporations receive. LeBas was the special guest of Rotarian Susan Saunders.



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