Amid budget concerns, senators reject proposed increase to public school financing next year

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BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — Senators have refused to boost funding for Louisiana's public schools by $85 million next year, rejecting a nearly $3.7 billion proposed financing formula.

The House had given unanimous support to the plan last week, but the Senate Education Committee rejected the legislation without objection Thursday.

If lawmakers can't agree on a new formula, the current year's spending plan will remain in place next year, with an automatic $41 million increase for expected student enrollment growth.

The dispute centered on other proposed increases, particularly a 1.4 percent inflationary boost that would cost $36 million.

Senators raised concerns about increasing spending on K-12 public schools while struggling with a $1.6 billion budget shortfall. School leaders say they need money to account for retirement and insurance price hikes and other cost increases.

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