Saturday, July 13, 2024

Legislature passes state budget Sunday

by BIZ Magazine

By Elizabeth White | LSU Manship School News Service 

BATON ROUGE–The Legislature gave its final approval Sunday to $48 billion in budget bills, restoring funding for a $2,000 stipend for teachers but cutting spending on early childhood education programs. 

The House had previously cut the level of the teacher stipends. But the Senate restored the full amount that Gov. Jeff Landry had proposed, and the House voted Sunday to concur. 

It had seemed recently that the Legislature would maintain the current funding of $24 million a year for early childhood programs, which are credited with helping to set children up for future success. 

But the Senate voted Friday to cut $9 million from that amount, and the House agreed to that on Sunday.

The votes came as lawmakers completed their version of the state budget for fiscal 2025, which starts on July 1. The budget now goes to Landry for his consideration.

These restoration of the stipends—one-time payments of $2,000 to K-12 teachers at public schools and $1,000 to support staff members– came after the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference increased its tax-revenue estimates, potentially giving lawmakers up to $197million more money to spend in this fiscal year and $88 million more next year. 

However, lawmakers can only spend about $86 million of that money this year because there is a constitutionally imposed spending limit that lawmakers did not agree to breach.

The additional revenue in the forecasts came from larger corporate and severance tax collections than expected and higher interest earnings on investments.

Lawmakers also voted to move $717 million from a state trust fund for revenue stabilization to increase spending on transportation projects, maintenance of facilities on college campuses and public safety efforts.

The House and the Senate could not agree on the details of a $209 million budget bill for the judiciary, including possible raises for judges. 

A conference committee of House and Senate members will need to decide on that before the session ends on Monday.

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