Phelan releases interim charges for House | TCTA
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Phelan releases interim charges for House

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House Speaker Dade Phelan has released a list of interim charges for House committees to tackle before the start of the 89th Texas Legislature in January, including examining the use of school voucher-like programs in other states and considering new ways to further drive down property taxes for homeowners. Some of these priorities overlap those of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in the Texas Senate.

According to the latest estimate from the state comptroller, Texas lawmakers are projected to have approximately $21.3 billion in available revenue at the outset of session, which begins Jan. 14, 2025. 

On the school voucher front, Phelan has requested that lawmakers study the use of education savings accounts in other states, and to “make recommendations for a Texas program.” The directive comes after similar legislation was defeated by a coalition of rural Republicans and Democrats last year, delivering a major blow to Gov. Greg Abbott on one of his key policy objectives.

Phelan's other charges for the House Public Education Committee include:

  1. Monitoring the implementation of bills passed in 2023, including:
    1. HB 1605, relating to instructional material and technology, the adoption of essential knowledge and skills for certain public school foundation curriculum subjects, and the extension of additional state aid to school districts for the provision of certain instructional materials; authorizing a fee;
    2. HB 2209, relating to establishing the Rural Pathway Excellence Partnership (R-PEP) program and creating an allotment and outcomes bonus under the Foundation School Program to support the program; and
    3. SB 2124, relating to an advanced mathematics program for public school students in middle school.
  2. Teacher Certifications: Examine the causes for and the impact to student outcomes of the increasing number of newly hired Texas teachers who are not certified by the State Board for Educator Certification. Make recommendations to enhance opportunities for uncertified teachers to become certified and strengthen parental rights and notifications. 
  3. Early Literacy and Numeracy Outcomes: Evaluate opportunities to improve students’ foundational early literacy and numeracy outcomes in grades Pre-K-3. Study best practices for identifying students requiring reading and math intervention and providing evidence-based intervention strategies. Recommend changes and evaluate investments to increase the number of students achieving reading and math proficiency by the end of third grade.

In other education-related charges, the Committee on Pensions, Investments & Financial Services will monitor SB 10, relating to certain benefits paid by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

The Committee on Higher Education will evaluate the alignment of postsecondary success incentives across PK-12 and higher education systems, as well as the tri-agency collaboration between PK-12, postsecondary education, and workforce to advance the “Building a Talent Strong Texas” goals outlined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

The Committee on State Affairs will examine escalating costs of insurance premiums, including factors contributing to the withdrawal of insurance providers from certain markets.

The Committee on Youth Health and Safety will monitor HB 3, relating to measures for ensuring public school safety, including the development and implementation of purchases relating to and funding for public school safety and security requirements and the provision of safety-related resources. It will also evaluate programs and services currently available to children and families that are either involved with, or at high risk for becoming involved with, the foster care and juvenile justice systems.