BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - House Republicans blocked passage of a $3.8 billion Louisiana public school financing formula, supporting its teacher pay raises but objecting to a separate boost for school districts.
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On a party-line vote Tuesday, the House Education Committee refused the proposal submitted by Louisiana's top school board for next year. Instead, lawmakers asked the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to remove $39 million of the $140 million increase.
Gov. John Bel Edwards recommended the spending hikes.
House Republicans say they back $101 million in pay raises: $1,000 for teachers and $500 for support staff such as cafeteria workers and bus drivers. But they objected to including an extra $39 million for district block grants, questioning whether Louisiana can afford it.
Lawmakers can support or reject the formula, but cannot change it.
Gov. John Bel Edwards issued the following statement:
"Protecting the pay raise for Louisiana’s teachers and school support staff is my top priority in this Legislative session. This pay raise is long overdue and much deserved, in addition to being extremely popular with Louisianans, who recognize the importance of what teachers do day in and day out for our students. This pay raise is the first step in a multi-year process to bring our teachers back up to the average salary of their peers in the region and is a strong signal to our educators that we appreciate their work and we support them. Right now, we are experiencing teacher shortages in every subject and fewer people are opting to become teachers. This is a critical moment not only for educators, but for our children.
I strongly believe that the per-pupil amount increase is necessary to support our school systems and our teachers, who often spend money out of their own pocket to buy supplies for their classrooms. This is why we included an increase in the MFP for the school districts above and beyond the pay raise. I am disappointed that the House Education Committee has voted to remove this portion of the MFP and return it to BESE, but I look forward to working with legislators and stakeholders to find common ground on this per-pupil amount as we move forward to increase pay for teachers while also balancing the state’s budget.”