Legislative Roundup: March 6

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The 86th Texas Legislature will be in session from January 8 through May 27. It meets biennially, and the budget that the Texas Legislature sets is in place for two years.

The full Texas Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 3 which would provide full-time classroom teachers with a $5000 pay increase. The bill was amended to include school librarians ($53 million increase), but Sen. Jane Nelson stated that there is not enough funding to add all school employees. The bill specifies that the $5,000 raise and associated TRS costs (an additional estimated $231 million) are to be paid for by the state. SB 3 would cost $4 billion over the next two years and is now going the the Texas House for consideration.

The Texas House recently filed House Bill 3 which they are calling the “Texas Plan” to address teacher pay, property tax reform and school finance reform. The bill would cost $9 billion with $6 billion for school finance reform and $3 billion for property tax relief.

Highlights include:

  • raises the base funding from $5,140 to $6,030 (hasn’t been adjusted in 4 years)
  • lowers school property tax rates by 4 cents per $100 of taxable property value
  • reduces recapture, known as Robin Hood, by $3 billion
  • funds full-day pre-K for low-income students
  • targets money to schools with higher concentrations of underserved students
  • provides funding for extended-year summer instruction
  • increases the minimum teacher salary schedule (classroom teachers, full-time counselors, full-time librarians and full-time registered nurses)
  • provides an additional $140 million for recruiting and retaining teachers

Additionally, the Senate Education Committee heard testimony about school safety proposals. Committee Chairman, Sen. Larry Taylor wrote Senate Bill 11, a school safety bill that would employ mental health professionals in Texas school districts, expand emergency response training for district employees and establish threat assessment teams. During the hearing, proposals about strengthening security and mental health initiatives in schools received the most support. “The best thing we can do for school safety is prevention,” said Taylor.

For more information:

Make sure to see the Klein Leadership Coalition Website for additional resources.