BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Governor John Bel Edwards will push for teacher salary increases during the 2019 regular session, officials confirmed to WAFB Monday.
Louisiana teachers have not received a pay raise since 2013. Since then, the state has fallen about $1,000 behind its regional competitors.
In 2016, the average American teacher made a little over $58,000 per year, while Louisiana teachers made around $49,000.
“It’s time for our teachers to get a raise,” Edwards told reporters Friday. “My number one priority next year is making sure we increase our investment in K-12 education.”
The governor’s deputy chief of staff, Richard Carbo, says Edwards wants to give teachers at least a $1,000 raise for the year to bring the state close to the regional average. He noted the governor will not set a target amount until the Revenue Estimating Conference releases a forecast for the state’s economy next year.
The raise would be funded through state general fund appropriations. Lawmakers are hoping steady economic growth will continue, giving the state more spending money.
Proponents for pay increases argue that higher wages could attract teachers from other states or help to retain Louisiana’s best instructors.
Juban Parc Junior High 7th grade English teacher, David Draper, says it’s important for teachers to be compensated fairly, but added “nobody ever got into this line of work for the money.”
“If we were concerned about how much money we made, we would not be in this line of work because there’s so much more to it than that," Draper said. “Despite what we get paid, this is the most rewarding job I think anyone could do.”
The legislature must approve K-12 funding each regular session. Because 2019 is an election year, some lawmakers may be more likely to vote for a pay raise that does not require a tax increase.