Thursday is a big day at the Capitol as the House debates the state budget and proposed amendments (including a key anti-voucher amendment), while the Senate takes up two of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s priority issues: vouchers in SB 8 (via an “education savings account”) and teacher issues, including salaries, in SB 9. Click here for information on the SB 9 debate and here for a bit of information on SB 8's passage.
As this Capitol Update was posted, both chambers were still debating. The House, though, has completed its consideration of most of the amendments to HB 1 that deal with education issues, including the anti-voucher amendment by Rep. Abel Herrero that was the subject of yesterday’s action alert. Thank you to those who made the call to their House member — your efforts were not wasted. After lengthy discussion, the Herrero amendment to ensure that public dollars will not be spent on private schools was adopted on a 86-52 vote.
Several other amendments of interest, including some that would increase retiree benefits or increase funding to schools in certain areas, were moved to a different section of the budget, Article XI, where they are in limbo for now. Amendments in Article XI have not been approved, but they are not dead. Keeping them in the budget bill ensures that they will be eligible for consideration during negotiations with the Senate in a conference committee later in the session.
One HB 1 amendment by Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer would have transferred $8 billion of the funds intended for property tax relief to fund a $10,000 salary increase for teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians. The amendment failed on a vote of 66-79.
There are many more amendments to be considered and the HB 1 discussions will likely last until late Thursday. However, the full bill is expected to pass easily in the House on an initial vote, with a final vote either this evening or next week.
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