BATON ROUGE – Pay hikes for Louisiana public school teachers could breeze through the state legislature, while support is also strong for a state hike in minimum wage, according to a report by the LSU Policy Research Lab.
The survey showed an 88 percent approval among Louisiana residents for teacher pay raises. Bipartisan support for the minimum wage is at more than 80 percent.
Two concurrent resolutions call for pay increases for teachers and school support staff.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 3 by Sen. Blade Morrish, R-Jennings, and House Concurrent Resolution 1 by Rep. Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, calls for a $1,000 raise this year for teachers and $500 hike for school support staff.
Gov. Edwards supports a 1.375 percent increase in the per-pupil allocation in Level 1 of the MFP. The per pupil allocation can be used by districts to provide for greater investment in school supplies, books, smart boards and cutting-edge technology to prepare our youth for the workforce of tomorrow. The extra dollars will also help to relieve the burden teachers are feeling of having to pay out of pocket for their school supplies.
The pay hike component goes into the Level 2 tier of the MFP at a cost of $72.2 million for an increase that impacts roughly 57,000 employees.
The increase for support personnel figures into Level 3 funding of the MFP at a cost of $25 million, with impact on approximately 39,000 employees.
Gov. Edwards is seeking “a modest, but meaningful” increase to the minimum wage by supporting a constitutional amendment by Sen. Troy Carter, D-New Orleans to provide for a state minimum wage of $9.00 per hour in Louisiana effective July 1, 2020.
The federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour has not increased since 2009. Since then, the cost of goods has increased by 17 percent, which has had a significant impact on our families, communities and employers.
As part of the report conducted by LSU’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs, support for raising public school teacher salaries is nearly unanimous among Louisiana residents, with 88 percent backing a pay raise. Raising teacher pay has broad consensus across political parties. More than 90 percent of Democrats and independents support boosting teacher salaries as do 80 percent of Republicans.
There is less support – and more partisan division – on the question of raising taxes to fund the raise. Overall, framing the issue in terms of tax costs cuts support to 63 percent.
Three-fourths of state residents (75 percent) underestimate average teacher pay in Louisiana; that is, they think teachers earn less than they actually earn.
There is more support for uniform pay raises across-the board than for proposals to give larger raises to teachers who work in schools or subjects with teacher shortages. Only 25 percent of participants prefer giving larger salary increases to teachers who work in schools with teacher shortages and smaller increases to teachers in other schools. Just 26 percent prefer larger pay raises for teachers in subjects with teacher shortages and smaller raises for teachers in other subjects.
Two-thirds (68 percent) of Louisiana residents have either a “good deal” of confidence or a “very great deal” of confidence in the state’s public school teachers.
Thirty-nine percent of state residents grade their local public schools with an A (12 percent) or B (27 percent). In contrast, only 25 percent grade public schools across the state with an A (five percent) or B (20 percent).
At the same time, 80 percent of residents want to increase state spending on public schools in Louisiana as a whole, but the share drops to 67 percent when asked about increasing state spending for public schools in their own local districts.
Key results on raising the minimum wage include: Four in five Louisiana residents (81 percent) support a minimum wage of $8.50 an hour. The proposal is popular among Democrats (94 percent), independents (78 percent), and Republicans (72 percent).
Support for a minimum wage drops to 59 percent when it is set as $15.00 an hour, and only Democrats maintain majority support (85 percent). Just 44 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of independents support a minimum wage of $15.00 an hour.