House Committee Approves Senate's K-12 Funding Plan

May 31, 2019

The House Education committee approved the same K-12 funding plan on Thursday they rejected earlier this session. That reversal suggests movement in the biggest debate surrounding next year’s budget.

The plan is the same one supported by the Senate, the governor and state education leaders. It would give teachers a $1,000 pay raise, bump support staff pay by $500, and send an additional $39 million to schools.

"Is it enough? Absolutely not. Is it a start? Absolutely, yes," said Senate Education leader Blade Morrish (R-Jennings), as he urged lawmakers to advance the proposal.

But approaching the final week of session, House leaders say they’re still not sure the state can afford both pay raises and more school funding. Appropriations chairman Cameron Henry (R-Metairie) said that’ll be a question left for his committee to consider before session ends June 6.

"My goal will be to tell you what will not be funded if we fund this.  You might be okay with it, but it’s my job to be able to tell you what won’t be funded," Representative Henry told members of the House Education committee.

The House approved a budget that would give teachers a larger raise of $1,200, increase support staff raises to $600 and remove the $39 million increase to schools. But those number are at odds with the K-12 funding formula advanced by the education committee Thursday. In order for the pay raises to be permanent, the two need to match.

Representative Pat Smith (D-Baton Rouge) says if they don't, it’s not really a pay raise.

“It’s totally a stipend, a bonus basically,” she said.

Education leaders say Thursday’s vote is a step in the right direction, but the key committee decision will be made over the next few days, as House Appropriations considers the funding proposal.