Blanco proposes $600 million in new education spending next year

March 15, 2007
Reported by Associated Press

Governor Kathleen Blanco unveiled a proposal today to pour 600 million dollars in new state cash into education next year, new dollars for pay raises, pre-K education, work force training and public colleges.

The spending plans -- part of the governor's budget proposal that will be presented to lawmakers tomorrow -- would tap into a significant portion of new dollars available in the state budget in the upcoming fiscal year that begins July first.

Blanco proposes pumping 400 million in increases for preschool, elementary and secondary education and another $200 million for public colleges. The governor said her education budget proposal would bring teacher pay to the Southern average in Louisiana and, for the first time since 1981, fund colleges at the level of their peer institutions in the South.

Education officials hailed the plans as the best way to dig Louisiana out of poverty, improve student achievement, prepare children for better jobs and attract new industries and research to the state.

Lawmakers on hand for today's news conference said they would fight to get the proposals through the budget process, which kicks off tomorrow when the Legislature's House and Senate budget committee hears Blanco's more than 27 billion dollar budget proposal for the first time.

House Speaker Joe Salter called the education proposals a "tremendous package" that would improve education in Louisiana.