On April 7th, the Texas House approved a $302 billion spending plan for the next two years that includes pay raises for state employees, tax cuts, and additional mental health services.
Pay Raise for Texas State Teachers
The pay raises have been a topic of controversy, especially among teachers who feel they are being treated unfairly. $5 billion of that budget would go towards education, but Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) President Ovidia Molina says the problems facing teachers will only get worse.
Molina says educators are not getting enough for their students or communities, and that the Texas House is not making teachers a priority. The TSTA wants a minimum increase of $10,000 per teacher, according to a published article in 12News.
In an effort to raise teacher pay, Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, the House Democratic Caucus chair, pushed for another $4 billion, which would increase the $3,800 per teacher pay raise to $10,000. Unfortunately, the effort went down on a 79-66 party-line vote.
Lawmakers Voted Against the Pay Raise
Republicans argued that their vote against the amendment was not a vote against teachers and that they are also looking for ways to reduce property taxes that affect both teachers and taxpayers.
In Texas, the average public school teacher salary was over $57,000 in 2021, compared to the national average of just over $65,000. Molina says that without higher salaries, teacher shortages will get worse and that larger class sizes, as well as benefit programs for students, will be cut.
The budget bill passed on a 136 to 10 vote, but some who voted against it cited not enough money for public schools and teachers. Molina and other educators are questioning the priorities of Texas lawmakers and are urging them to do what is right for their students.
With the TSTA pushing for a higher minimum increase per teacher, it remains to be seen what actions Texas lawmakers will take to address this issue.