PAR asks Senate to reverse House cuts to early childhood ed, teacher pay

    In a new commentary released on Friday, the Public Affairs Council of Louisiana urges state senators—currently in charge of the budget bills—to prioritize early childhood education and coastal restoration work with the updated income projections. 

    On Thursday, lawmakers learned they had more money than they thought to spend after state revenue projections were adjusted upward through June of next year. 

    Along with funding early childhood education and coastal restoration initiatives, PAR suggests lawmakers focus on paying down debts, such as retirement debt, to lessen the fiscal cliff on the horizon when a temporary 0.45% state sales tax expires next summer. 

    “Anything lawmakers can do now to shrink the shortfall will lessen the pain of next year’s budget negotiations,” PAR writes. 

    PAR suggests senators reverse the House-proposed cut to an early learning program, which the organization praises as helping parents stay in the workforce and better prepares children to start school. They also want senators to reverse the House’s proposed reduction to public school teacher and support worker stipends. 

    “The Legislature provided $198 million for those stipends in the current school year, but the House proposed shrinking that amount to $166 million next year,” PAR writes. “That’s an unnecessary cut that could weaken teacher recruitment and retention.”

    Read the full commentary.