After House Speaker Taylor Barras voted Wednesday morning to break the REC’s nearly four-month deadlock over revenue estimates, lawmakers received an additional $119 million to budget heading into the next fiscal year.
It’s no surprise that Gov. John Bel Edwards’ proposed pay raise of $1,000 for teachers and $500 for school support personnel will likely be the first items funded now that legislators have access to the revenue surplus. “The teacher pay raise remains the top priority,” Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne told LaPolitics.
Dardenne also said he will be meeting with the heads of various state agencies and departments during the week to determine where their needs and if any can be addressed with some of the excess cash. The commissioner added the administration will be working with lawmakers to offer up amendments to the budget as it is drafted. “We don’t appropriate the money, the Legislature does,” Dardenne said.
Some lawmakers have already identified priorities they would like to see receive more funding. “While teacher pay raise seems to be taken care of, I think there will be a fight over where the rest of the money goes,” Democratic Caucus Chair Robert Johnson said.
The REC deadlock prevented the general appropriations bill from being filed under its usual instrument number of HB1, and both Appropriations Chair Cameron Henry and Speaker Pro-Tem Walt Leger drafted budget bills. Dardenne said that the administration was flexible moving forward with the committee. “We’ll work off of any bill that the chairman wants,” he said.
Jeremy Alford will publish Capitol Views each afternoon on Daily Report PM through the end of the legislative session. The report is also available to subscribers at LaPolitics.com.