Louisiana’s state budget is supposed to reflect our values and priorities. In his 2024-25 budget recommendations to the Legislature, Gov. Jeff Landry prioritized police and prisons over students and teachers; courts over colleges and universities.
Every state budget involves difficult tradeoffs. With state revenues projected to be essentially flat, any money for new initiatives had to be taken from other parts of the budget. The governor’s budget wisely maintains Louisiana’s current investments in early childhood education and need-based college scholarships. But his recommendations do not include a permanent pay raise for teachers, and instead calls for maintaining the stipends that teachers received last year in lieu of a raise.
The budget recommendations also include less funding for key state agencies. Higher education is receiving $122 million less than it did last year. And the lack of pay raises for college faculty means it will continue to be difficult for state colleges and universities to recruit and retain quality professors and staff. The state’s beleaguered Office of Juvenile Justice is also facing a $7.6 million cut.
But the budget recommends more funding for the Department of Corrections and State Police, including using one-time excess money on recurring expenses for the two departments.
Most troubling of all, the failure to invest adequately in teachers and students comes at a time of relatively stable state revenues. A much bigger problem looms in the 2025-26 budget cycle, when automatic tax cuts take effect and the state is projected to face a $559 million shortfall. Louisiana can avoid next year’s fiscal cliff – and make much-needed new investments in education at all levels – by renewing the expiring taxes or finding alternate sources of revenue.
Louisiana’s economy can’t reach its full potential until students, teachers and families are prioritized over prisons and police in our state budget.