Texas AFT

There are three days left in the regular session of the 88th Texas Legislature. And as of this writing, there are $0 dedicated in the proposed final state budget for public school employee raises. 

After more than a month of negotiations in a conference committee of representatives and senators, House Bill 1, the proposed state budget was released Thursday. It contains no increase to the basic allotment for students and no raises for teachers or school staff.

The only person in public education with a line item for a pay raise? Education Commissioner Mike Morath, though the Texas Education Agency was quick to reply that the commissioner would not be accepting any raise.

So where’s the money? It’s being held hostage for a private school voucher. In exchanges on the Senate floor today, senators all but admitted it. House Bill 100, a previously well-intentioned school funding bill that was hijacked by the Senate’s voucher caucus, now sits in a conference committee for negotiations.

But let’s be clear: This isn’t a good-faith negotiation. It’s a hostage situation. A $50 increase to the basic allotment does not make defunding our schools through vouchers palatable. Especially not when we need a $1,000 per-student increase just to match inflation.

For weeks, we worried that this Legislature was going to give public school employees crumbs. Instead, with a state surplus larger than the entire budgets of 24 states, lawmakers want to put strings on those crumbs.

We cannot sit quietly while they do so. This session ends Monday, and that means . Hopefully you do. The stakes could not be higher.

As it looks right now, the only way we’ll get a basic allotment increase in the state budget in this regular session, apparently, is if House Bill 100 passes. The only way HB 100 should pass is if it’s clean of a voucher.

That’s the assignment for our Legislature this weekend. 

In this week’s Hotline: 

  • More from this final week of the state Legislature, including updates on retired educators’ COLA and attacks on higher education.
  • Also brewing in the Legislature, indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton’s chickens are finally coming home to roost.
  • We close out AAPI Heritage Month with a spotlight on McAllen AFT’s Jennifer Han, the 2022 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year.
  • With the end of the year comes worries about lost textbooks and technology. Know your rights.
  • — Legislature