On Jan. 24, Gov. Edwards announced his budget priorities for the next fiscal year, which include new, recurring investments in education at every level, from funding better opportunities for Louisiana’s youngest learners to increasing salaries for K-12 teachers, support staff and higher education faculty.
In higher education, the Governor’s proposal dedicates $31.7 million for higher education faculty pay raises, in addition to an increase of $97.2 million in other funding increases. The Governor’s budget proposal includes an increase of $5 million for Title IX offices across the state, $15 million increase in GO Grants, $25 million into the Higher Education Initiatives fund. The proposal also includes depositing $10.5 million into the MJ Foster Promise Program Fund, which provides financial support for non-traditional students to earn credentials from community and technical colleges that align to high-demand jobs in growing industry sectors across Louisiana.
The budget proposal includes $148.4 million for K-12 teacher and staff pay raises. The proposed teacher pay raise of $1500 is significantly higher than the raise teachers received in the current year, and the fifth proposed by the Edwards administration. In addition, the Governor supports using additional revenues recognized by the Revenue Estimating Conference later this spring to increase these proposed raises for teachers and staff.
“Louisiana’s educators have always deserved more pay … but the coronavirus pandemic has further highlighted the need for high quality, well-teachers at every level of education in Louisiana,” Gov. Edwards said.
For early childhood education, the Governor is proposing a $43.4 million increase, which includes more than a $17 million increase for the LA-4 Early Childhood program. In addition, the Governor will be recommending a significant investment into the Early Childhood Education Fund.
The Governor’s budget proposal also includes more than $1.1 billion in funding for critical infrastructure, including $500 million for a new Mississippi River Bridge in Baton Rouge, $100 million for I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge in Lake Charles, $100 million for the I-49 Lafayette Connector, and $500 million for water and sewer improvements statewide.
The Governor’s budget proposal also dedicates $550 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding to replenish Louisiana’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which had a historically high fund balance prior to the global coronavirus pandemic. If the fund is not restored to a balance of $750 million by September of this year, taxes will automatically be raised on businesses to replenish the fund.
“This is a budget I am proud of, this is a budget the Louisiana people can be proud of, and this is a budget I believe the Legislature can proudly support,” Gov. Edwards said.