With the 2017 special session coming to an end by midnight this Wednesday, February 22, the Louisiana legislature is racing to determine how much of the Budget Stabilization Fund (Rainy Day) will be used and to determine what cuts we will face in order to balance the budget.
Governor Edwards hoped to allocate 1/3 or 119,000,000 of the Budget Stabilization Fund (Rainy Day). At this point, the senate has agreed to allow at least $99,000,000 to be used to balance our budget. On the house side, as it stands now, HB3 will cut education with reductions in state activities by $7,000,000 and subgrantee assistance by $1,750,000.
We have our champions and our foes in Baton Rouge. Representative Pat Smith offered an amendment that would have eliminated K-12 education from the budget cuts, however, it was voted down with nay votes coming from local legislators LARRY BAGLEY, DODIE HORTON, THOMAS CARMODY, and ALAN SEABAUGH. With these votes, it’s easy for one to question WHOSE SIDE THEY ARE ON.
The same amendment was offered and passed on the Senate floor with only one nay vote coming from local Senator JOHN MILKOVICH . Senator MILKOVICH offered an amendment of his own, which would have reduced the Minimum Foundation Program (our school funding) by more than $10,000,000. MILKOVICH’S amendment was rejected by every member of the Senate.
While education appeared to escape budget cuts, Senator Claitor, District 16, amended the original education cuts back in. As it stands now, the pro-public education amendments offered up by the Senate were rejected by the House, and have yet to be scheduled for floor debate. SCR2, which will allow the Governor to utilize $99,000,000 of the Budget Stabilization Fund, will be debated in House Appropriations this morning.
The question all public educators should be asking themselves is- WHOSE SIDE ARE THEY ON???