TCTA Public Affairs Coordinator Pamela McPeters testified before the Senate Finance Committee Monday during its hearing on the budgets for education-related state agencies. These include the Texas Education Agency and the Teacher Retirement System. See our written testimony here.
TCTA discussed priorities for the session that include a significant, across-the-board pay raise; more funding for health insurance; help with discipline issues including the hiring of more skilled professionals to address behavioral issues; and cost-of-living increases for retirees.
During questioning of Education Commissioner Mike Morath by committee members, there was a fair amount of discussion regarding teacher incentive pay via the Teacher Incentive Allotment. This appears to be a popular program among many state leaders for addressing teacher pay, but TCTA continues to drive home the message that TIA benefits only a tiny fraction of teachers and is not a solution for the teacher shortage.
During the TRS portion of the meeting, senators appeared to understand the health insurance affordability crisis that teachers are facing, due in large part to the fact that the state has not increased its contributions toward health insurance premiums in the two decades since the program was authorized. They also discussed various means of providing benefit increases for retirees. Brian Guthrie, the TRS Executive Director, noted that a 1% cost-of-living adjustment (without a cap) would cost around $1.1 billion.