Fewer early childhood education seats in latest Louisiana budget plan, teacher pay intact

Aerial view of Louisiana State Capitol building
Aerial view of Louisiana State Capitol building
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(Photo credit: Wesley Muller/Louisiana Illuminator)

Editor’s note: The House of Representatives voted Sunday evening to concur with Senate amendments to the state budget. 

While lawmakers maintained public school teacher pay at its current level, early childhood education slots would be cut next year under the latest proposed Louisiana state budget.

With very little discussion, the Louisiana Senate voted unanimously Friday for new versions of the state’s finance bills that would go into effect July 1. Lawmakers could send their final spending plan to Gov. Jeff Landry as early as Sunday evening, once the House of Representatives has a chance to review the Senate’s changes. 

The reduction to the early childhood education budget from this year would be $9 million under the Senate budget. It’s unclear how many seats that spending cut could eliminate, but a previous plan to pare back $24 million was said to threaten 2,000 seats in the program.

Legislators have also agreed to take $717 million out of a state savings account called the Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund to pay for transportation needs, public safety priorities, higher education campus maintenance and water system upgrades, among other priorities. 

The public safety portion of that money will go toward building juvenile justice facilities and possibly be used for police, firefighter and first responder construction needs. 

Senators also added $10 million for coastal restoration, resisting calls to withhold state money from such projects. An additional $10 million was allocated to the new Louisiana State Police troop Gov. Jeff Landry has established in New Orleans. 

This latest version of the budget plan also retains more than $100 million worth of lawmakers’ pet projects. The money is tagged for golf courses, courthouses, fraternal organizations, playgrounds and nonprofits that wouldn’t otherwise receive state money.

Lawmakers have continued to put pet projects into the budget plan, even though state Treasurer John Fleming warned last month that his office is still struggling to disperse  $165 million worth of similar projects from past years.

Time for legislators to finalize the budget is running out. Both chambers will convene at 5 p.m. Sunday and must conclude their session by 6 p.m. Monday.

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