Senate Finance Fails to Increase Teacher & School Employee Raises
On Sunday afternoon, the Senate Finance Committee met to deliberate and approve the budget bill, along with supplementary appropriations legislation. The Minimum Foundation Program, which is the funding formula for Louisiana public schools, is a part of the $39 million budget discussed on Sunday. The current MFP proposal includes a $1,500 raise for teachers and $750 for support staff. The Governor’s office, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education as well as educational stakeholders like LFT have requested that the legislature invest part of the additional revenue recognized at the May REC meeting into additional raises for teachers and school employees.
Despite outcry from thousands of teachers and support staff, the Senate Finance Committee did not vote to increase the educator raise.
Instead, Senate leadership patted themselves on the back for sponsoring the $1,500/$750 raise. “We couldn’t be more proud to have given teachers a raise this year” said Senate President Page Cortez at the meeting. Then, he raised the concern that local school districts may not be paying their fair share. “One of the requests you all [the Senate Finance Committee] made when the division’s request to potentially take it up to $2,000 was how much are the locals putting up and how much have they put up over the last four years. And the report, I’m going to ask the public, but we haven’t gotten that report,” said Cortez, before turning to Jay Dardenne, Louisiana Commissioner of Administration and adding “not that we’ve asked you yet.”
It would appear that the legislature is unwilling to increase the pay raise because they feel local school districts should be paying more, but in fact they do not know how much local school districts have put towards increasing employee compensation and they haven’t even requested that information yet. Meanwhile, the majority of the Senate also voted against SB 151, which would have protected local control over Industrial Tax Exemptions, which are used to fund local educational expenses like employee compensation. They want Locals to put up more money, but they don’t want those locals to have control over their own revenue streams?
Meanwhile, neighboring states have passed significantly larger state-wide pay increases for teachers and school support staff. This year alone, Mississippi gave teachers a big raise, averaging $5,140. Alabama gave most teachers a 4% raise but those with a bachelor’s degree and 35 years experience would get a 20.8% raise. Georgia gave $5,000 over the past two years with regular increases moving forward. In 2021, Arkansas passed a $2,000 raise and increased funding for lower-paying school districts. In 2019, Georgia gave teachers a $3,000 raise; Texas gave between $5,500 and $9,000.
In fact, in recent years, Louisiana has consistently passed raises that fall short of increases passed in neighboring states, meaning we are falling further behind the Southern Regional Average for teacher compensation.
Now, the budget is being reconciled between the House and the Senate before going to the Governor for final approval.
There is still time for the legislature to pass an additional increase! Please take a moment to send a message to your legislators. Fill out the form and click "start writing" to begin sending a message to your Louisiana State Senator and Representative.