Teacher pay raises win final legislative approval at the state Capitol

Updated: Jun. 3, 2019 at 6:42 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A pay raise proposed by Governor John Bel Edwards for the state’s public school teachers won final legislative approval in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Applause followed House Speaker Taylor Barras’ announcement of the vote count Monday afternoon (June 3).

"103 yays and zero nays and the resolution has been adopted,” Barras, R-New Iberia, said.

Teachers in the K-12 system will receive $1,000 more and school support workers an additional $500.

The vote ended a stalemate between the House and the state Senate. Weeks earlier, the House passed a budget to operate state government that provided for a $1,200 teacher pay raise and $600 more for school support workers. But that was done without including the raises in the Minimum Foundation Program, which is the state’s official formula for allocating funding for education to school districts.

So, recently, the Senate sided with Edwards, who had previously proposed a $1,000 raise for teachers and half that amount for school support workers. That set up the need for a vote on a concurrent resolution.

Before the overwhelming vote in favor of the resolution, which is in line with the governor’s proposal, Rep. Scott Simon, R-Abita Springs, expressed frustration over the process.

"We voted a $1,200 pay raise for the teachers early on this year, didn’t we? We could probably apply that we are cutting the teacher’s pay today compared to what shot out of here a couple of weeks ago,” Simon said.

Edwards had argued that not including the raises in the MFP would amount to a one-time stipend. The lawmaker handling the bill on the House floor, Rep. J. Rogers Pope of Denham Springs, agreed.

"This resolution, though, puts it into the MFP formula which would be a recurring thing,” Pope said.

As part of the resolution, local school districts will get $39 million in block grants under the MFP.

Pope broke down the per-student allocation.

"It would provide for a $54 increase in per-pupil expenditure for the students this coming year,” Pope said.

Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, who also spoke in favor of the resolution, said schools deserve even more funding.

"Although it still is not enough, we know students will still share books,” Jackson said.

After the House vote, Edwards issued the following statement:

“Today’s an exciting day: the first pay raise our teachers and support staff have had in many years has passed the Legislature. Only one hurdle for this raise remains in the Legislature and that’s approval of the budget bill that supports this raise and the increase to the MFP per pupil amount. As we enter the final days of the legislative session, we have a chance to invest in education at every level, from early childhood all the way through higher education. We’re heading in the right direction and I appreciate all of the members of the Legislature who joined the fight for our teachers and our students.”

Debbie Meaux, the President of the Louisiana Association of Educators, also issued a statement applauding final passage of the education formula:

“By securing funding to provide our school professionals with permanent increases in pay, we take the first step toward getting the salaries of these dedicated women and men up to the levels of their colleagues in surrounding states. Recruiting and retaining these types of professionals to work with our children is one of the most important investments we can make for our students. Additionally, including dollars ($39 million) for school district aid will help to enhance our educators’ working conditions and our students’ learning conditions. This is a move in the right direction for public education in the state of Louisiana. We look forward to the brighter days ahead.”

Copyright 2019 WVUE. All rights reserved.