Just four years after winning his first term, state Rep. Steve Carter coasted to re-election when no challengers stepped up.
Carter is a Republican who represents House District 68.
He is also a member of the House Education Committee.
And improving public schools, he says, is the key to economic development and trimming Louisiana’s age-old poverty problems.
Carter said Baton Rouge needs better public schools so officials of firms looking to relocate here do not feel that private schools are their only viable option.
Carter also is part of a group of nearly two dozen school districts trying to expand education services, including Early Head Start, from birth to age 5.
He said the more students who start school on grade level “the greater chance you have of reducing poverty.”
Carter contends that, after a session dominated by a $1.6 billion revenue shortfall, spending cuts still merit attention.
“We are going to continue to look at streamlining government,” Carter said. “We have to continue to look.”
Before Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, he said, the state’s operating budget was about $17 billion for roughly 4.5 million residents.
Now it is about $25 billion for operations even after population losses.
“The population has not grown but the budget has grown,” Carter said.
He did not spell out which services should face reductions.
“I just think that we have an awful lot of money out there,” the lawmaker said. “We have to make sure we are spending it properly.”
Carter said he would not consider tax hikes as a way out of Louisiana’s budget troubles.
He also contends that fee hikes are different from tax hikes.
That issue surfaced periodically during the 2011 regular legislative session.
Advocates of tax increases, which failed to gain political traction, sometimes complained it was inconsistent for Gov. Bobby Jindal and other tax hike opponents to endorse fee increases.
“I don’t necessarily consider that as a tax increase,” Carter said of higher fees.
Carter said transportation improvements are the biggest need in his legislative district.
He said that includes the need for mass transit improvements, ensuring that workers have a way to get to their jobs and improved bicycle paths.
Litter reduction is another district priority, Carter said.
“As long as you do that it makes people feel good about living here,” he said.
Carter, former tennis coach at LSU, appeared taken aback that no one is trying to replace him in the Legislature.
Asked how he escaped re-election opposition he replied, “Heck if I know.”
Republican, Baton Rouge.
EDUCATION: B.A., LSU.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: State representative, 2007-present.
WHERE TO VOTE
Ward/Precinct and location
East Baton Rouge Parish
1-8 St. Joseph’s Academy
1-35 Westdale Middle
1-39 Westdale Heights Magnet
1-41 Trinity Episcopal
1-42 Southdowns Elementary
1-44 LSU Laboratory School
1-48 Baton Rouge Center for Visual and Performing Arts
1-59 Valley Park Center
1-65 Westdale Heights Magnet
1-73 Cenikor Foundation
1-105 LaSalle Elementary
3-13 Jefferson Terrace Elementary
3-17 Westminster Elementary
3-18 Mayfair Middle
3-29 Westminster Elementary
3-35 Bluebonnet Regional Library
3-51 Drusilla Lane Park Recreation Center
3-52 Perkins Road Recreation Center