Legislation to aid retired teachers won final legislative approval Thursday but questions remain on whether it will become state law.
The proposal, House Bill 414, cleared the Senate 37-0 and the House, 94-0.
Under the plan, retired teachers could return as substitutes without jeopardizing their pension income. However, they could not be paid more than 25 percent of their annual pension.
But final approval came with a twist. The substitute measure will only take effect if an unrelated, controversial measure — Senate Bill 6 — becomes law, which means it has to avoid a veto by Gov. Bobby Jindal.
“If Senate Bill 6 does not pass this does not become law,” state Rep. Page Cortez, R-Lafayette and sponsor of the substitute teacher bill told the House.
Senate Bill 6 would require public schools that withdraw from the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana to repay the system its share of any retirement debt, which is called unfunded accrued liability.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Butch Gautreaux, D-Morgan City and an outspoken Jindal critic.
In addition, charter school leaders have criticized the bill.
Public schools that are converted to charter schools are among the candidates to withdraw from the retirement system.
Gautreaux said Thursday his bill makes sense so that teachers who pull out of the retirement system do not saddle those remaining with excessive retirement debt.
That bill earlier passed the House 57-28 and the Senate 38-0.
It is awaiting action by Jindal.
The substitute bill has won lopsided support in both chambers.
But Gautreaux managed to link his bill — political leverage — with Cortez’s bill when it was put in a House-Senate negotiating committee in the final days of the session.
Cortez said Thursday that he had to accept the addition for the substitute bill to have any chance of winning final approval.
The bill cleared its final hurdle with less than 90 minutes left in the session.
Under current state law, a superintendent has to declare a teacher shortage to be able to hire a retired teacher.
Cortez said that, because of that rule, most superintendents simply opted not to use retirees as substitutes.
The bill would allow retired teachers to return to the classroom from kindergarten through 12th grade.
However, if they are paid more than 25 percent of their annual pension check it would be subtracted from the retirement benefit.