Week 5: The House Budget

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WEEK 5: The House Budget

$30 BILLION BUDGET PASSES

On Monday, the House Appropriations Committee approved a $30 billion budget. On Thursday, it passed through the senate floor nearly unanimously. This budget includes a pay increase of $1,200 for teachers and $600 for support staff, which is slightly more than the proposal made by the Governor and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), but contains major problems:

  1. This proposal does not secure the funding through the MPF formula, which means it wouldn't be a reoccurring raise: it would be a one-time bonus. It's vital that Louisiana work towards a long term strategy to increase wages and school funding significantly over multiple years, but if funding isn't secured in the MFP it's not guaranteed in future budgets.
  2. This proposal gives ZERO dollars for increases in school funding. This money is critically important to pay the expenses associated with a pay increase and fund things like mandatory curriculum, professional development, technology, etc. Without increases in school funding, much of this could come out of the pockets of our teachers and support staff or result in schools needing to make cuts – which is unacceptable.

For these reasons, LFT and the entire Louisiana Public School Coalition, supports BESE's original resolution which would secure $101 million in raises and $39 million in increased funding for local school districts, in the MFP. The House budget will now move on to the Senate, which will have the opportunity to make changes.

THE MFP IN BESE

On Tuesday, BESE met to consider the House Committee on Education's request that they propose a new MFP without $39 million for local school districts. The board discussed the MFP in great detail, and heard testimony from every group in the Louisiana Public School Coalition, who urged them not to remove funding from their original MFP. Larry Carter, President of Louisiana Federation of Teachers, testified in support of BESE's original MFP resolution and asked BESE not to cut funding or give in to "political grandstanding" in the legislature. In the end, BESE did not cut the MFP. Now, the resolution, as proposed in March, remains in the legislature and the House Education Committee may vote it up or down at any time.

 

THE MFP IN THE SENATE

The Senate's resolution in support of the MFP -- SCR 3 -- was discharged from the Senate Finance committee this week and will proceed to the Senate Floor. Had BESE chosen to cut funding from the MFP in their Tuesday meeting, this resolution would have to be amended and reconsidered. Thankfully, BESE's decision means that the SCR may continue through the legislature, and undermine the House Education Committee's attempts to cut school funding.

 

SCHOOL VOUCHERS

This week, WVUE-TV, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune, WWNO, and Reveal - The Center for Investigative Reporting released a multi-part examination of Louisiana's public school voucher program, and they found striking problems . 92% of voucher schools in Louisiana that were graded received a 'D' or 'F' (some aren't graded at all) and none received an 'A' or 'B'. Moreover, despite political promises to the contrary, the program actually costs the state $10 million dollars per year more than traditional public schools and doesn't provide parents with control over their children's education.

These revelations come at the same time the the House Committee on Education unanimously approved House Bill 446 by Rep. Steve Carter, which would create another $46.6 million dollar school voucher program in Louisiana. Louisiana Federation of Teachers was the only organization that opposed the bill in the committee meeting.

 

RETIREMENT

On Wednesday, the House Retirement Committee heard HB 28 by Rep. Ivey. This bill could destroy teachers' retirement prospects by creating a hybrid 401K retirement plan, which would undermine our incredibly successful pension system. The hearing room was packed with retired teachers, eager to voice their opposition to this bill, along with representatives from LFT. Rodney Watson, LRTA Executive Director, testified on behalf of retired teachers and the entire Louisiana Public School Coalition in opposition to HB 28. Thankfully, Rep. Ivey agreed to defer his bill, but told the committee "this issue is never going away with me."

 

 

 


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