The Louisiana House on Monday approved $3.4 billion of aid to local education in fiscal 2013 by a narrow, disputed vote in the final hours of the 2012 session.
The House adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 99, the conference committee report on the Minimum Foundation Program that the Senate approved on Sunday. The vote was 51-49 in the House.
Fiscal 2013 will be the fourth straight year that education spending has been flat.
Bills normally take 53 votes to be approved in the 105-member House, but Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, ruled that passage of a funding resolution needed only a majority of members actually present in the chamber.
Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, said without the measure schools would be funded at the fiscal 2012 level. A private school subsidy is an essential part of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s overhaul of education in Louisiana, Carter said.
Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, said the vote is probably not constitutionally valid, and that Kleckley was wrong when he ruled that only 51 votes were needed to pass the measure.
“We don’t spend $3 billion in the state of Louisiana just with 51 votes from the House,” Edwards said.
Steve Monaghan, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, said the group may challenge the funding measure over the provision that provides per-student state stipends to private and parochial charter schools.
The unusual approval in the House could be a factor, he said.
“It creates another constitutional issue for the courts,” Monaghan said. “Disregarding the rules is the story of this session.”