Subcommittees of the House Appropriations Committee are meeting this week to consider revisions to the base budget bill, to be presented to the full committee soon. TEA/school finance riders are under the purview of the Article III subcommittee, which adopted a number of new riders including two initiated by TCTA.
Riders without a cost were adopted directly into Article III; those that had support but would add a cost to the budget were included in the catch-all Article XI, where they often fade into oblivion.
Among the approved riders for Article III to be forwarded to the Appropriations Committee:
- Rep. Erin Zweiner proposed two TCTA-initiated riders that were adopted. One would provide transparency regarding the cost of the Teacher Incentive Allotment/teacher designations program that was approved in HB 3. There is currently no line item in the budget that estimates the cost of the program or the numbers of teachers in the different designation categories that are projected; the rider would include those figures.
- The second TCTA-initiated rider by Zweiner would ensure that districts could not lower teacher salaries below 2020-21 levels.
- A rider by Rep. Geanie Morrison would ensure that COVID-19-related federal funds could not be used to reduce state funding for districts.
- A rider by Zweiner would allocate federal funds to be used for accessibility remediation of instructional materials (large-print, Braille, captioning, etc.).
- A rider by Rep. Mary Gonzalez would expand the use of a current grant program to support students with autism who need behavioral supports to include any students with disabilities.
Among the riders moved into Article XI for future consideration:
- A rider by Rep. Harold Dutton would provide for $100 million in disaster remediation funding for schools affected by the 2021 winter storm.
- A rider by Dutton would allocate $200 million for schools experiencing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A rider by Rep. Ina Minjarez would provide $50 million for maintenance for digital devices.
- A rider by Rep. Dan Huberty would provide $60 million for the transition to electronic administration of assessments.
- A number of riders that would be contingent on the passage of other bills were moved to Article XI, including $1 million dollars to fund a bill providing for suicide prevention, intervention and “postvention” (a bill to be heard in Tuesday’s House Public Education Committee hearing),and $500,000 to fund a bill that would create abbreviated educator preparation programs for certification in marketing education and certification in health science technology education.