A proposal to rewrite Louisiana’s constitution will not advance during the current legislative session, according to a key Senate leader. House Bill 800 has been parked in the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee, which Sen. Cleo Fields chairs, since it advanced out of the House earlier this month. Baton Rouge’s WBRZ reports

“HB800 will not be heard in this session of the Legislature,” Fields said in an interview with WBRZ after his panel met Tuesday. “We are going to have another meeting tomorrow but I don’t intend to put it on the agenda and I don’t intend to put it on the agenda for the rest of this session. “There may be some other moves that may be made before the session is over with, but as far as 800, that bill will not be heard this session,” he said.

While HB 800 is dead, Gov. Jeff Landry’s plans for rewriting key parts of the constitution are still alive. As The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate reported on Tuesday, current plans call for public hearings in June and July, and a special session in August to address the issue. Visit Invest in Louisiana’s website to learn more.

Gov. Jeff Landry’s plan to have taxpayers underwrite private school tuition is nearing final passage after the House, voting mostly along party lines, gave its support. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Greg LaRose explains how Louisiana’s version of an ‘education savings account’ was neutered – for now – to prevent the spiraling costs that other states have experienced with their own programs. 

Instead of a three-year implementation schedule initially proposed in Edmonds’ bill, the state can choose just how quickly or slowly they want to make the money available for more public K-12 students to attend private schools. The only firm number in the bill now is a $1.8 million allocation to create the program. As to what the state will spend on actual private school vouchers, that will be up to the governor’s administration to propose and state lawmakers to approve. 

The private schools getting state funds will not be subject to the same standardized tests and letter grades as public schools, The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Patrick Wall reports

On Tuesday, Rep. Larry Bagley, R-Stonewall, proposed giving private schools that receive ESA money letter grades based on students’ test scores similar to the public-school rating system, which he said would help hold private schools accountable for student performance. The House rejected his amendment. “There’s no accountability,” he said. “I find that unbelievable.”

Senate Bill 313 still needs to go back to the Senate for approval after the House added amendments.

State lawmakers are poised to tap into a state savings account to pay for one-time construction projects, including incurred costs from the state’s renewed effort on mass incarceration. Corporate tax collections above $600 million and some oil and gas tax revenue flow into the Revenue Stabilization Fund. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Tyler Bridges reports

Rep. Jack McFarland, R-Winnfield, said most of the $717 million – about $400 million – would be spent on upgrading roads and bridges where the Department of Transportation is ready to start work. McFarland expects another $100 million would go for water projects, $100 million for deferred maintenance at colleges and universities and $120 million on prison facilities. He said another $100 million had yet to be allocated.

Federal Covid-relief dollars allowed Louisiana public school systems to expand summer school programs. But educators are worried the expiration of those funds later this year will undo the progress that has been made to combat learning loss suffered during the pandemic. The Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Ashley White reports

Research shows that summer learning programs and tutoring, if done right, can help with academic recovery, said Bella DiMarco, a policy analyst with Georgetown University-based think tank FutureEd. “Now suddenly we have to cut all these programs that research shows are effective,” she said. Without the federal funds, schools will need to find “something different to accelerate learning.” Students in Louisiana have rebounded better than most in the U.S.

Community partners are stepping in to fill funding gaps in some school districts: 

The Lafayette Parish School Board plans to offer its expanded summer school program again next year and keep it free for families. To make up for the loss of the COVID money, the district turned to community partners, including the Stuller Family Foundation and Pugh Family Foundation, for funding assistance. “When public schools are a success, the community’s a success,” [Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Janine ]LaFleur said. “That’s why so many people have come in to help us.”

$7,052 – Average annual cost per beneficiary in Louisiana’s Medicaid program in 2022 – up from $4,356 in 2012. (Source: Louisiana Legislative Auditor