'Super Bowl'-Style Deal May Soon Bring $1.6B to Texas Teachers

Details on education plan unveiled by Gov. Greg Abbott, including teacher raises, are still scarce
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2019 11:12 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Texas Legislature has been grappling lately with a slew of issues, from immigration and abortion to LGBT rights. Now, a big move for lawmakers there on one particular front: GOP Gov. Greg Abbott has announced relief will soon arrive to help his state's public school teachers. The AP reports that relief will come in the form of $1.6 billion allotted for raises for teachers, librarians, and other support staff, part of a larger $11 billion plan in the Lone Star State that would also ease property taxes and pump funds into other educational initiatives. "I said we will do what no one thought possible: We will finally fix school finance in Texas," Abbott said Thursday, per the Houston Chronicle. The AP notes teacher salaries are about $7,000 below the national average, per stats from the National Educational Association.

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Lt. Gov. Patrick also praised the plan, saying it emerged from "the Super Bowl of legislative sessions." However, details on the overall plan—which would also fund full-day pre-K for low-income families and set up a "do not hire" registry for applicants with a history of sexual misconduct, as well as funnel $5 billion toward tax relief—are scarce, leaving teacher unions and school districts optimistic but cautious. "We are disappointed that our state leaders prioritized property tax breaks over long-term, sustainable support for the public schools our kids deserve," a rep for the nonprofit Center for Public Policy Priorities says, noting the larger amount of $5 billion earmarked for tax relief compared with $4.5 billion promised for classrooms. The legislation still needs to be OKed by the state House and Senate before the legislative session ends Monday. (Read more teacher pay stories.)

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