Louisiana residents widely support giving teachers a pay bump and raising the minimum wage, a new LSU survey shows, with teacher pay raises garnering "nearly unanimous" support.
The third of six reports from the 2019 Louisiana Survey found 88% of Louisiana residents back raising public school teacher salaries, including more than 90% of Democrats and independents and 80% of Republicans.
Raising the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour drew similarly strong support, at 81%.
Both issues are key parts of Gov. John Bel Edwards' legislative agenda, which he outlined Monday in a state of the state address marking the start of the legislative session. Giving teachers a $1,000 pay raise has attracted bipartisan support among lawmakers.
Edwards has previously sought an $8.50 an hour minimum wage, but this year is pushing for a $9 an hour wage.
Louisiana does not have a state minimum wage, so the effective minimum wage is the federal rate of $7.25 an hour.
"These results show very strong, nearly unanimous, support for public school teachers and an appetite for pay increases—an issue that will likely be raised during the legislative session that just kicked off yesterday," said Michael Henderson, director of the Public Policy Research Lab, which conducts the annual surveys. "However, there is more partisan division on whether the state should raise taxes to fund a pay increase for public school teachers.”
Support for teacher pay raises falls to 63% if framed in terms of raising taxes generally to pay for the pay hikes. Three-fourths of residents think teachers earn less than they actually earn.
Raising the minimum wage by $1.25 an hour, to $8.50, drew support from Democrats, Republicans and Independents.
Nearly 60% of people even support a minimum wage of $15 an hour, including 85% of Democrats, 44% of Republicans and 46% of Independents.
"This LSU survey highlights what we already know to be true: the majority of Louisianans, regardless of party affiliation, want to give our teachers a pay raise and increase the minimum wage," Edwards said in a statement. "During this legislative session, state lawmakers have the opportunity to approve bills that will make both a reality."
The survey was conducted between Feb. 15 and March 7 and polled 917 Louisianans from across the state. The margin of error is 4.6 percentage points.
The LSU survey previously polled a minimum wage hike in 2016, and found 76% supported raising the minimum wage to $8.50.
Senate Bill 60, filed by state Sen. Troy Carter, D-New Orleans, would establish a $9 an hour minimum wage effective July 2020, if Louisiana voters agree with the increase.
Business groups have successfully lobbied to kill Edwards' previous attempts to raise the minimum wage. Carter's bill again will face a tough road in the GOP-controlled Legislature.