Senate, House Education Leaders Split On Public School Funding

May 3, 2019

Lawmakers in the House and Senate education committees—both controlled by Republicans—disagree over a $39 million increase to public school funding, a split that could pose a threat to pay raises for Louisiana teachers. 

The Senate education committee voted Thursday to approve the Minimum Foundation Program, a formula used to determine how much money the state spends on K-12 education.

“I just wanted to get something moving,” said Senator Blade Morrish (R-Jennings), leader of the Senate Education committee.

The process stalled last month, when the House Education committee voted to return the same proposal to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, asking them to remove the $39 million increase backed by Governor John Bel Edwards.

Those dollars amount to a 1.375 percent bump to classroom funding, roughly $50 more per student than the state is currently spending.

“The education community, teachers, school districts need that 1.375 percent because they haven’t had an additional increase in 10 years.”

But some Republican lawmakers are concerned there isn’t enough money to increase classroom spending and teacher salaries, both funded through the Minimum Foundation Program, or MFP.

BESE president Gary Jones says the state board is meeting next week to discuss K-12 funding, but whether or not they’ll reconsider the $39 million remains unclear.

“At this point, the issue is still pretty cloudy for us,” said Jones.

Senator Conrad Appel (R-Metairie) was the only member to vote against the approval. He’s concerned the state won’t be able to fund all the additional dollars being requested for K-12, potentially jeopardizing teacher pay raises, which have bipartisan support.

“If y’all maintain this," he said to BESE president Gary Jones, "and we don’t have the money, then the whole thing could blow up.”

Lawmakers have until June 6th to reach an agreement.