Louisiana Lawmakers are considering whether the state should start paying Emergency Medical Service workers the same monthly supplement that local law enforcement officers and firefighters receive.
A Senate judiciary panel agreed without objection Tuesday to a constitutional amendment that would add full-time EMS workers to the list to receive a $500 monthly paycheck from the state on top of their local salaries.
The proposal would cost at least $3.7 million a year and likely more, depending on how many EMS workers qualified, according to legislative fiscal analysts.
Supporters of Senate Bill 285, by state Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, said EMS workers promote health and safety of the public, just as local police and firefighters do.
Critics have raised questions about whether the state should be in the business of helping pay local emergency responders, instead of leaving that responsibility to parishes and cities.
The proposal is expected to run into budgetary concerns because of its price tag.
The constitutional amendment is expected to head next to the Senate Finance Committee for a budgetary review. If approved by both the House and Senate, the proposal also would need the support of voters in the Nov. 4 statewide election.