Senate budget proposal ties new education funding to vouchers | TCTA
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Senate budget proposal ties new education funding to vouchers

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The Senate Finance Committee approved its education-related recommendations for the state budget Monday, making an additional $5 billion in education spending contingent on the passage of several bills (either the following specific bills or similar legislation addressing the same topics):

  • SB 8 (parents’ rights, and education savings accounts/vouchers)
  • SB 9 (teacher rights and pay; the current Senate proposal in action is $2,000 per classroom teacher, or $6,000 for those in districts with enrollment of under 20,000 students)
  • SB 11 (school safety)
  • SB 1474 (special education, including special education vouchers via education savings accounts)
  • SB 2625 (instructional materials)

While contingency funding is not unusual, it is not the norm to tie increased funding so specifically to a group of bills. This mechanism would ensure that public schools will not receive the $5 billion unless the legislature passes vouchers.

The Senate priorities include a pass-through salary increase (ensuring that all teachers receive a specified raise, rather than leaving it up to districts to allocate funds for salaries), but TCTA maintains that $2,000 is not an adequate increase if the goal is to shore up the teaching profession, and the raise only applies to classroom teachers, not librarians or counselors, other professionals or support personnel.

The full budget has not yet been voted out of the committee, but that action is expected soon, and will be followed shortly by Senate floor consideration.

The House version of the budget has passed the House Appropriations Committee but has not yet been set for House floor debate. It does not include contingency language similar to that of the Senate bill, but provides several billion dollars in new funding as well. The House has not yet made clear what the preferred mechanism for salaries will be, but there are proposals by influential House members that would eliminate the current salary schedule, replacing it with a range of salary levels (click here for more information on salary proposals).