Texas

What’s going on in the Legislative Assembly this week? Waiting for Teacher Pay Invoice

While legislators wait for the commission to pass to the committee, bills are still being filed in this legislative session.

This week, Round Rock Democrat James Talarico is planning to file a bill to raise teacher salaries amid an ongoing teacher shortage.

Sergio Martinez-Beltran, who reports on the Capitol for Texas Newsroom, said that while details on the bill have yet to be released, Talarico has introduced similar legislation in 2021.

“This is very important for MP Talarico,” Martinez-Beltran said, noting that the MP is a former teacher. “In 2021, he introduced a bill that would have required the minimum wage for teachers to be $70,000, but it came to nothing. But I think, again, we might see similar efforts by others to try and get teachers promoted.”

The average starting salary for teachers in Texas is just over $29,000 a year statewide.

Martinez-Beltran said that in budget proposals submitted by both houses last week, lawmakers indicated their intention to increase funding for public and charter schools.

“Some of the possible strategies include allocating money to raise teachers’ salaries and benefits. But again, this is just a possibility. Anything can happen. There are not many details yet,” he said. “I have spoken to education advocates who have said that the Legislature should also consider increasing the base amount, which is funding per student. This formula has not changed since 2019. Inflation is a real thing and experts say that increasing this base appropriation will actually lead to automatic pay increases for teachers, nurses, librarians and consultants.”

Martinez-Beltran said education funding is just one of the priorities for the state’s $33 billion surplus. Other priorities include lowering property taxes and allocating funds for school safety.

“We see that school safety is perhaps one of the areas that the Legislature would like to spend some money on,” he said. “For example, the Budget Proposal allocates $600 million to the Texas Education Agency to help school districts with school safety initiatives. In addition, the Legislative Assembly promised, on the basis of this draft budget, to increase funding for public education.”

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