Gov. John Bel Edwards’ has proposed a pay increase for school employees in his 2021 budget proposal that will be unveiled Friday morning. K-12 teachers would see a $400 increase in their annual salary while K-12 support staff would see a $200 increase in his budget plan, the governor said.
“We obviously know that our teachers and support workers deserve more than that,” Edwards said in a press conference Thursday afternoon. “I am absolutely committed to delivering more teacher pay over the remainder of this term, but we always knew it would be a multi-step, multi-year process.”
The governor and Louisiana Legislature increased teacher pay by $1,000 and support staff pay by $500 in 2019, after years of school employee pay remaining mostly stagnant. But last year, Edwards did not propose a pay raise — angering teachers who felt like he was breaking a promise he had made to them.
Louisiana has about 50,000 public school teachers who make a little over $50,000 per year on average. Their average pay is well below the national average, and the state’s teacher unions have been complaining for years about the gap between what they make and what the average teacher makes.
Teachers do have the governor’s ear. They make up a significant portion of Edwards’ political base and helped elected him to office in 2015, when he was first running for governor. His wife is a former public school teacher, and he has several other family members who work in public schools.
“This is another step in the right direction,” he added about his pay raise proposal Thursday.
Reporter Julie O’Donoghue contributed to this report.