Legislation that would authorize the spending of $3.4 billion for public schools moved near final approval Tuesday despite claims that the proposal is seriously flawed.
The state House Education Committee approved the measure without objection.
The proposal, Senate Concurrent Resolution 99, next faces a vote in the state House, and possibly a review by the House Appropriations Committee.
The plan passed the Senate 26-10 on Monday.
The legislation spells out basic state aid for public schools through a formula called the Minimum Foundation Program.
It would make the fourth year in a row in which state spending per student is frozen amid state budget problems.
Backers have said that, despite the freeze, other states have cut aid to public schools, and noted that Louisiana has made major cuts to higher education, health care and other key state services.
The freezes have taken a toll, said Mary Bonnette, finance director for the Avoyelles Parish school system.
Bonnette said the lack of any state aid increases have sparked budget cuts, larger class sizes and fewer classroom resources.
The Louisiana Association of School Superintendents also oppose the resolution, said Donald Songy, associate executive director of the group.
Songy said that, because of first-time changes in the proposal, money will be redirected in a way that means fewer dollars for public school students.
Steve Monaghan, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, noted that this year’s MFP, for the first time, will allocate state aid dollars for some students to attend private or parochial schools using state-issued vouchers.
“That is going to be a litigation matter,” Monaghan said.
The state aid, which backers call scholarships, is aimed at helping low-income students attending “C,” “D” or “F” public schools to move to higher-performing public, private or parochial schools.
The Louisiana School Boards Association also opposed the resolution because it would use state school aid dollars for students to attend private schools.
The spending plan was recommended by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Lawmakers can only approve or reject the resolution but cannot change it.