Teacher Pay Raises, School Finance Plans Are Fracturing Texas House and Senate

AUSTIN -- A costly Senate plan to give every Texas teacher a $5,000 raise is laying bare disagreements over how best to fix the state's public schools.Early this year, the Capitol's "Big 3" leaders -- Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Dennis Bonnen -- applauded a school finance panel's recommendations to overhaul school funding, which didn't include across-the-board raises.But in January, Patrick and Senate members announced the plan for raises, a surprise to many that culminated this week in sharp differences between the House and Senate’s emerging proposals.Bonnen pushed back Tuesday when asked about the Senate's effort to devote most of its new money for schools to higher salaries."I don't know how you call a $5,000 across-the-board teacher pay raise ... with no discussion of reducing recapture, no discussion of reducing property taxes, no discussion of early childhood education, no discussion of incentivizing the teachers going to a tougher school to teach" a school finance plan, Bonnen said.The House and the Senate have laid out their top education priorities -- with the Senate prioritizing the across-the-board raises -- and the House backing a comprehensive infusion of new state dollars into schools. And while leaders insist that the two proposals don’t clash philosophically, they may compete for state’s limited pot of dollars available for schools.Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Humble and the lead author of the House school finance bill, said it’s not a competition. But he cast his bill as essential.  Continue reading...

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