Letter to the Editor: House Democrats’ Plan to Invest in Texas Children
By Terry Garner – Navarro County Democratic Chairman
House Democrats today unveiled their plan to invest in Texas children.
Amidst rising inflation and crippling teacher shortages across the state, our schools are at a breaking point. And despite the largest budget surplus in Texas history, House Republicans have not proposed a single penny in investments in our children, teachers, and retirees in the state budget (H.B. 1).
While Republicans work to break the public education system by pulling money out of classrooms for corporate tax cuts and private school vouchers, House Democrats are proposing a critical $15 billion investment to put children before corporate tax cuts and to invest in the future of Texas.
The plan has four core tenets:
○ Raise the Basic Student Allotment to Match Inflation – House Democrats propose raising the amount the state spends per student to $7,500 by 2025 for $11 billion, keeping pace with inflation. This would be a 23 percent increase in the allotment — the same as inflation between Fall 2019 and the 2024-25 school year. Since 2019, the State has not put any new money in schools despite the challenges brought on by COVID and rising inflation.
○ Funding Public Schools by Enrollment – House Democrats propose shifting to funding schools by enrollment, giving schools more financial certainty in allocating resources as well as investing an additional $3 billion into classrooms. Instead of using enrollment — the number of actual students served — our state currently determines funding based largely on an archaic attendance system that left nearly 300,000 students unfunded in the 2021-22 school year.
○ Reducing Teacher Shortages & Raising Salaries for Educators -House Democrats propose a critical investment in compensation for teachers with a $7,000 raise in 2024 and a $10,000 raise in 2025 to reduce shortages as well as boost retention. Librarians, counselors, and nurses would also be guaranteed raises. The lack of teachers has resulted in larger class sizes and less individual instruction while also fueling a vicious cycle of teachers leaving the profession.
○ Honoring Our Commitment to Retired Teachers – House Democrats propose a $1 billion additional investment in TRS to improve H.B. 600 and provide a cost- of-living adjustment for retired teachers without raising contribution levels for active teachers. Retirees would receive 6 percent, 4 percent, and 2 percent COLAs depending on their retirement year. Retirees have not had a COLA in nearly 20 years, a reality worsened by rising inflation. Investing in TRS would also help make the teaching profession more attractive.
What this means for Texas schools is that there would finally be increased funding for:
○ Teacher pay raises
○ School safety
○ Hiring more counselors
○ Smaller classes
○ Improving school facilities
While Texas Republicans have only proposed a measly $50 funding increase per Texas student, House Democrats are fighting for a $1,340 increase per student.
Texas Democrats across the state today applaud Representative Trey Martinez Fischer and the entire House Democratic Caucus for their bold vision to invest in Texas children and the future of our state.
Republicans are working to systematically gut public education in order to boost wealthy, private schools – with today’s shameful HISD takeover announcement putting a fine point on their brazenly political agenda.
In contrast, Democrats are doing the work to ensure every Texas kid – no matter their zip code, race, or walk of life – is able to access a quality education.
Democrats’ new Plan to Invest in Texas Children, if enacted, will help address some of the most critical problems facing our state’s rickety education system:
○ Properly funding each student’s education
○ Bolstering school safety and facilities
○ Reducing teacher shortages
○ Raising teacher pay
○ Ensuring we’re treating our retired teachers with the respect and dignity they deserve
For the sake of our kids and grandkids, we hope that Republicans will prioritize Texas children over corporations and work with us to enact this transformational plan.
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