Oct. 19—AUSTIN—Texas Democrats unveiled their own school finance plan on Thursday, saying they would fully fund the state’s public schools.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
House Bill 177, authored by state Rep. Gina Hinojosa, D-Austin, is dubbed the “Fully Fund Our Future Act.” It provides for teacher salary increases, bonuses for support staff, and an increase in student basic allocations.
“Now is the time to put our money where our mouth is,” Hinojosa said.
The bill creates a cornerstone $15,000 pay raise for public school teachers.
College graduates with the same education level as teachers are making 21.5% more than Texas teachers, Hinojosa said. This comes at a time when the state is losing teachers in record numbers. The Texas Education Agency reported in September that more than 13% of the state’s teachers — nearly 50,000 of them — left the profession last year, resulting in the largest annual loss on record.
“It’s time we stop paying lip service to support our Texas teachers and start paying them what they’re actually worth,” Hinojosa said.
The bill also adds a $5,500 bonus for all support staff on school campuses and increases the student base allocation by an additional $2,787. The student base allocation is currently $6,160 per student. Despite inflation, it has not been increased since 2019. Hinojosa said the bill includes an annual adjustment for inflation.
Additionally, the bill includes separate additional funding by allocating $2.3 billion annually over the biennium for special education programs and $3 billion for school safety measures to help schools pay for recent legislation, e.g. For, an armed officer is required on every campus during school hours. ,
The bill also changes the basic funding system for public schools. Currently, Texas schools are paid by the state based on average daily attendance, or attendance counts throughout the year. This means that schools do not receive funding for the day a student is absent, even though its other services must continue. This act would change the funding mechanism to enrollment based, so that schools receive funding based on the number of students enrolled.
“We are one of only six states in the entire country that still punish their children for truancy, and in an era where children are often absent due to COVID, we are leaving billions of dollars on the table that we should have Gotta go kid,” Hinojosa said.
Texas currently has $23 billion in funding available and will have another $23 billion in its rainy day fund by 2025, according to new data from the Texas Comptroller’s Office.
State Representative Trey Martinez-Fisher, a San Antonio Democrat and chair of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, said he believes the state has abundant funding to cover the costs of the act.
“We have the ninth largest economy in the world, yet we’re 43rd in the country when it comes to (education) spending,” Martínez-Fisher said. “House Democrats know that if we commit to public education, if we are willing, there is a way to fully fund our future act.”
Texas lawmakers are back at the Capitol for their third special session that began on October 9.
At the top of Gov. Greg Abbott’s priority list is setting up education savings accounts that would allow state dollars to flow to families to pay for education outside of public and charter schools, such as private and homeschooling options, as well as uniforms. , Textbooks, Tuition. Or transportation, among other things.
The Texas Senate passed a version of the bill last week that allows parents to collect $8,000 of taxpayer money.
The Texas House is stalled on this measure, along with other priorities, because it is not scheduled to return to the chamber until Monday — halfway through the 30-day maximum special session. The Texas Senate also passed a teacher pay raise bill that includes a $10,000 raise for rural teachers and a $3,000 raise for our urban teachers.
“Texas parents want school choice to pass,” Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said after the vote. “The House needs to work because Texans are watching.”