POSTED: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 7:53pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 8:06pm
Baton Rouge, LA (NBC33) — Governor Bobby Jindal said leaders from the state legislature reached a preliminary agreement on the state budget.
Gov. Jindal (R-Louisiana) said the nine members of the special budget conference reached a deal with him Wednesday evening.
"I want to praise the legislators," he said. "I know they've been working very hard on this budget throughout the entire process. I think the result is a very good budget for the people of Louisiana."
The $25 billion plan must be voted on by the House of Representatives and Senate by 6:00 p.m. Thursday, but Gov. Jindal believes that will not be a problem.
Gov. Jindal said the plan was based off a version passed by the Senate.
He singled out four reasons why he approved of the plan. First, it includes an increase in the minimum foundation program, with $69 million more for teachers. Half of the money will come in the form of a pay raise, while the other half will be dispersed to school boards to cover employee benefits.
"We think this is a great investment in education," he said. "Our teachers have been working very hard. They've been implementing historic education reforms; graduation rates are up, student performance is up, we see great progress in our schools."
The MFP indicates how much money the state will spend on K-12 education.
The budget proposal includes $40 million dollars for the school scholarship program Gov. Jindal introduced in 2012. The program was in jeopardy earlier this year when the state Supreme Court ruled that its funding mechanism was unconstitutional. This past year, approximately 5,000 students attended private schools because of the voucher program, and that number will increase to 8,000 for the coming school year.
Gov. Jindal said the budget plan does not include a tax increase.
It also does not include an expansion of Medicaid. Proponents said it would provide health care to people who could not afford insurance, but critics argued that it would cost Louisiana billions of dollars. Gov. Jindal previously said he would veto any Medicaid expansion bill that came across his desk.