The funding plan for K-12 schools in Louisiana is finally on its way to the full House, after the Appropriations committee advanced the school funding formula Sunday.
Lawmakers worked through the weekend to move bills as the final week of session begins. The education budget has been one of the major hold ups.
Governor John Bel Edwards made teacher pay raises his top priority this session.
"The pay goes to the adults, the investment is in our children. The number one ingredient for a quality education remains a highly-professional, motivated, well-educated teacher in that classroom," Governor Edwards said recently at a rally for education funding.
Under the plan, teachers would receive a $1,000 pay raise, support workers would get a $500 raise, and school districts would see a $39 million bump.
Members of the House originally voted against that plan earlier this session, opting instead for larger pay raises and no additional school funding. They reversed course Sunday, but not without some reservations.
Appropriations Chairman Cameron Henry (R-Metairie) says members are still concerned about how the state will pay for the additional $140 million to public schools in years to come.
“Once this is voted out," explained Representative Henry, "the money is locked in. You can only get more next year, you can never get less.”
Some Republicans in the House doubt that the state can afford teacher pay raises and the increase to school districts.
Representative Tony Bacala (R-Prairieville) questioned budget maneuvers made in the Senate to cover those costs, which he and Representative Henry say could create a budget hole next year between $23 million and $47 million.
“It has a price tag somewhere down the line. It helps us look better this year, it’s gonna be a little more difficult next year," said Representative Bacala.
The school funding formula will be debated in the House Monday, four days before session must end.