The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2004 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
The Louisiana legislature rejected one of Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco’s top budget priorities for the new fiscal year: a plan to give teachers a substantial raise through a $1-per-pack increase in the state cigarette tax.
The final budget for fiscal 2006, which began July 1, provides a 3 percent lift in overall state spending on pre-K-12 education, to $2.9 billion.
The $18.7 billion budget contains $10 million for the classroom-based technology fund, restoring a program that had been zeroed out for two years. Gov. Blanco pushed hard for raising the tobacco tax to pay for teacher-salary increases, promising raises of about $3,300 over two years. Instead, the legislature acted to make sure all teachers receive at least $530 as a one-time bonus. Teachers in some districts will receive raises under the state’s school funding formula.
Since signing the budget earlier this month, the Democratic governor has made clear that Louisiana will hear from her on the teacher-pay issue.
She said she may call a special session of the legislature early next year to increase teacher salaries if the state’s revenue projections grow.
“Some may wonder at my persistence in this matter,” Gov. Blanco said in a June 30 statement. “I am totally committed to meaningful teacher-pay raises. I really do believe teachers are the foundation upon which we will build a new era of prosperity for the children of our state.”