Texas House Proposes to Increase State's Funding of Public Education by 16.7%

Under its new Speaker Dennis Bonnen, the Texas House of Representatives is looking to increase the state’s public education funding by $10.1 billion, according to the legislative budget estimates it released today. 

The House’s budget estimate recommends putting $70.6 billion of state funds towards public education for the 2020-2021 biennium, a 16.7% increase from the estimated $60.4 billion it funded for 2018-2019.

This morning, Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) filed SB3, which would mandate a $5,000 pay-raise for all full-time Texas public school teachers. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, spoke out in favor of a teacher pay raise, saying, “ I want to give an across the board— I talked about in my campaign—a $10,000 raise on average over time. I think we can make a big step forward this year in doing that,” at a Texas Realtors event last week.

State lawmakers’ proposed increases to public education funding comes as part of a newly united effort among leadership to provide property tax relief. When the state increases its portion of public school funding, school districts depend less on local funding, allowing them to lower local property taxes- or at least hold off from increasing them for a while.  

“Today is the dawn of a transformative session that will usher in a new era — a new era for children, teachers and taxpayers,” Governor Greg Abbott said after being sworn in today at the Capitol in Austin. “This will happen because of my partners here today: Speaker Bonnen, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and all the members of the House and Senate. We are going to get this done.”

The newly proposed House budget includes a $1.1 billion decrease in funding for Health and Human Services. Although the budget would require a $633 million withdrawal from Texas’ savings account, the “rainy day” fund’s balance is expected to reach $14.7 billion in 2021.

The Senate is expected to propose its budget in the coming days, after which lawmakers will negotiate and amend both proposals before voting on and passing a final budget by May.

 

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