On Friday, the Policy and Planning Board of the Louisiana Office of Group Benefits (OGB) met to consider a proposed rate hike. Increasing rates would result in added health insurance costs for teachers and school employees across the state, along with other public employees.
LFT sent out an action alert as soon as news of the meeting was made public. In less than 24 hours, thousands of teachers and school employees wrote to the board, asking them to vote ‘no’ on the proposed increase to the cost of their insurance.
LFT Legislative and Political Director Cynthia Posey spoke before the Board on Friday, relaying the concerns of our members and asking the board members to oppose any rate hikes this year. While we fully recognize the importance of having a stable, well-funded account balance that will ensure reliable insurance coverage for our members, we oppose efforts to unnecessarily increase costs. Currently, the OGB fund is well above target rates. The Louisiana Legislative Auditor recommends that the OGB fund balance should be roughly $275 million. Currently, it sits at $430.8 million. This is money that state agencies and state employees, like teachers and school employees, have paid into the system.
The AFT has always been a solutions-driven union, and our new campaign, launched during TEACH on July 21, proves it once again with a fresh, practical approach to strengthening public education. As AFT President Randi Weingarten pointed out during her keynote speech, the $5 million, yearlong campaign, “Real Solutions for Kids and Communities,” stands up against attacks on public schools and offers real-world solutions to build up, rather than break down, our communities.
Summer is upon us, and parents, children and teachers are winding down from what has been an exhausting and fully operational school year—the first since the devastating pandemic. The long-lasting impact of COVID-19 has affected our students’ and families’ well-being and ignited the politics surrounding public schools. All signs point to the coming school year unfolding with the same sound and fury, and if extremist culture warriors have their way, being even more divisive and stressful.
This week the Senate approved raises for teachers and school employees! In the last week of the Session, it will all come down to the House.
On Monday, the Senate passed SCR 2, which is the legislative instrument for the MFP. After some back and forth with the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) over the amount of the MFP proposal, the Senate ultimately decided to pass the MFP in its original form.
The MFP unanimously approved by the Senate this week includes a $2,000 raise for teachers and $1,000 for support staff, as well as differential payment stipends for certain teachers in certain circumstances. While this proposal is not the full $3,000/$1,500 raise proposed by the Governor, it is far better than the $0 allocated for teacher and school employee raises in the House’s budget passed earlier this year.
Now the MFP (SCR 2) will go to the House for approval.
In order for educators to receive a raise, the House must pass the MFP proposal AND the House and Senate must agree on a final budget that fully funds the MFP.
Legislators on both sides of the aisle are now saying that we’ve reached a tentative agreement to give teachers a $2,000 raise and support staff $1,000 – but at this point nothing is final.
A lot can change in a matter of hours, so we must continue to put pressure on Senators to support pay raises for teachers and school employees.
This week, two major things happened with your raise, and two actions are needed to make sure you receive a raise.
#1: The Legislature has more money to spend in this year’s budget.
The Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) had their long anticipated meeting on Thursday. After hearing from the state’s economist, the REC adopted conservative revenue projections, recognizing $806 million in new general fund revenue.
#2: The Senate Education Committee rejected SCR 2.
On Thursday, the Senate Education Committee finally considered SCR 2, the legislative instrument for the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP), which is the K-12 funding formula. The MFP, along with the state budget (HB 1), is what will determine the teacher and school employee pay raise. They voted to reject the MFP proposal as it originally stands and send it back to BESE.
We need you to take TWO actions.
It’s Teacher Appreciation Week!
We are so grateful to all the teachers and school employees who show up for their students each day. Unfortunately, the Louisiana House of Representatives doesn't feel the same way.
Last week, they removed the pay raise for teachers and school employees from the state budget. Despite outcry from our state’s educators, they chose to prioritize pet projects and a marginal increase in debt repayment instead of giving a raise to our teachers and school employees. Now, the budget is in the Senate and they are debating what to do next.
The money is there, but so far, your legislators have refused to make teachers and school employees a priority. In order for you to receive a raise, the legislature must:
The Louisiana House of Representatives has passed a budget that does not include any funding for teacher and school employee raises.
Despite outcry from our state’s educators, the Louisiana House of Representatives chose to prioritize pet projects over raises for teachers and school employees. They are using a complicated debt repayment system: they want to pay off a portion of their UAL debt and have you believe that your school districts will use those savings to give teachers and school employees a raise. To be clear, there are $0 allocated to teacher and school employee pay raises in the budget that the House passed this week.
Next week, the House Education Committee will consider three particularly important bills:
✅ HB 21 (Stagni) Would allow school boards to offer school support staff who have infants that are critically ill or who are expectant mothers and have no remaining extended sick leave to take up to 30 additional days of extended sick leave for maternal and child health. This extended sick leave is already available to teachers, but this bill would ensure all school employees have the same access to extended maternal health leave to care for their families.
✅ HB 205 (Bryant) Would require teachers to receive extra compensation when they work outside their job description. Teachers would be paid an hourly rate when participating in after-school activities involving students.
✅ HB 348 (Jenkins) Changes the reporting requirements so that immediate action is taken to protect staff and students when there is a credible and imminent threat to an educator or student. The passage of this bill would help ensure that staff, students, and parents are notified of serious threats and that all credible threats are appropriately investigated.
SEND A LETTER TO THE HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE
Legislators are currently working to find any excuse to avoid funding a permanent raise for teachers and school employees this session. The truth is simple: the funding is available! The only question is whether or not legislators are willing to make teachers and school employees a priority.
In an election year, lawmakers like to brag about the increases to teacher and school employee pay passed in recent years. Still these marginal increases haven’t kept up with neighboring states. Louisiana has continued to fall further behind the Southern Regional Average for teacher pay. Moreover, Office of Group Benefits (OGB) premium increases have outpaced raises passed by the legislature. Last year, teacher and support staff pay was increased by an average of 3%, but OGB increased rates by 4.5%. This is on top of the rising cost of living which impacts educators every time they buy groceries for their families or pay for a tank of gas.