AP NEWS

Public school financing divides Louisiana’s GOP lawmakers

May 2, 2019

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Republicans in the House and Senate are at odds over Gov. John Bel Edwards’ proposal to give Louisiana’s public school districts a $39 million block grant increase.

The Senate is advancing a 2019-20 school financing proposal backed by the Democratic governor that includes the funding boost. The Senate Education Committee voted 6-1 Thursday for the measure, with most Republicans on the panel backing the legislation.

But Republicans on the House Education Committee blocked a similar proposal, opposing the $39 million increase, questioning whether the state can afford it.

The disagreement threatens to create problems for passage of a separate $101 million pay raise for teachers and school support workers, which is also included in the financing formula.

The pay hikes — $1,000 for teachers and $500 for support staff — have widespread support in both chambers and across both parties.

But the K-12 formula is crafted by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Lawmakers can reject or approve it. They cannot change it. And it’s unclear if the board will offer a revised formula.

If the board and lawmakers don’t agree on a new formula, the state continues to use the one already on the books. That means pay raises would have to be funded separately in the budget, and wouldn’t become part of the permanent, annual formula. That could put the money at risk in the future.

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Senate Concurrent Resolution 3: www.legis.la.gov