Teacher pay raises, longer school year up for debate as Texas House takes up school funding
AUSTIN — Will Texas lawmakers guarantee teachers a pay raise this year? That’s one question members of the Texas House will attempt to answer Wednesday as they take up a mammoth education bill that promises to reform how the state funds education and offers property tax relief to homeowners.
Two-thirds of the House members have signed up to support the $9 billion bill, giving the proposal more than enough votes to pass. The bill does not promise pay raises for teachers, although several superintendents have testified that they would expect to give teachers a raise should the legislation pass. A competing measure passed by the Senate guarantees $5,000 across-the-board raises for teachers and school librarians.
While supportive of the measure, House members are proposing more than 90 amendments to further shape the bill.
If passed as is, Texas would send schools $6,030 per student, an increase of nearly $900 from the current year. The bill also allows for school districts to stretch their school year further into the summer, fund full-day pre-K programs for certain students and incentivizes school districts to lure high-performing teachers to struggling schools.
The bill would also reduce so-called “Robin Hood” payments property-rich school districts like Houston and Austin Independent School District make to help fund property-poor school districts.
Lawmakers also expect the plan would result in a property tax break, amounting to roughly $80 a year in savings for the owner of a $200,000 house.
The Senate has yet to reveal all the details of its own school funding reform bill. Should both the House and Senate versions pass, members from both chambers would enter negotiations to reconcile the differences between the two bills. If the measure is approved, it would go to Gov. Greg Abbott for review and possible adoption.
This is a developing story; check back for updates.
STATE POLITICS: Get the most out of what’s going on politically through our Texas Take newsletter. Sign up here.