LOUISIANA (KLFY) In Baton Rouge, teachers hold onto hope that senators will support a state budget that includes a pay raise.

Last week the Louisiana House of Representatives passed a budget that does not include pay raises for school employees or teachers.

The executive director of the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana A+PEL, Dr. Keith Courville says at the state Capitol there are dueling budget proposals.

Dr. Courville explains one side supports state pay raises for teachers and the other wants to pay down the state debt to free up money, and school districts can work toward pay raises.

Courville of Iberia Parish’s Patoutville says there’s enough money for the state to do both; pay off debt and pay teachers

Courville says a state pay raise will keep Louisiana competitive with other states.

“You can look at the Republicans in Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi giving three, four, and five thousand dollar pay raises consistently.  They’re clearly valuing and supporting teachers and making themselves a competitive state,” Courville added.

Courville would like to see a $3,000 state-level teacher pay increase.  He doesn’t agree that pay raises should fully be left to local school districts to give.

“Some districts can do things. Some districts can’t,” Courville stated.

Courville understands the state’s need to pay off debt but not at the expense of leaving educators and support staff without.  

“There’s plenty of money at the capitol.  I think this year’s surplus, I think is $1.8 billion.  You can make a considerable debt payment and also lock in those raises for teachers and school support staff,” Courville said.

Courville notes that while some legislators failed to pass a state pay raise for educators, proposed money for lawmakers is getting done.

“For three months of work, it’s supposed to be a part-time job to be a legislator, will go to $60,000.  Now, how can anyone in good faith argue that our legislators work more than our teachers?”

Courville figures Louisiana is about three $3,000 away from the regional average.   The proposed budget now moves to the state senate.